By Alice Dubenetsky
There is a new challenge on the horizon for Addison County state representatives Michael Fisher (D-Lincoln) and Dave Sharp (D-Bristol) and her name is Valerie Mullin.
Mullin, a Republican from Monkton, has announced her candidacy for a seat in the House, of Representatives, and she plans to win enough votes to bring some sanity back into Montpelier. Good old down-to-earth, pragmatic common sense has been a scarce commodity in the statehouse of late. The Democrat dominated legislature has supported bill after bill that threatens to strain the resources of Vermont workers and business and threatens to further weaken our fragile state economy.
Mullin kicked off her campaign at the Friends Methodist Church hall in Monkton on February 4. Among her supporters present that evening were former Governor Jim Douglas and Vermont business leader Bill Sayre, both of whom spoke highly of her integrity.
Governor Douglas said her message is right on target He’s very worried about where this state is headed under the current leadership. He spoke of worrisome demographics and an unsettling business climate. “People can’t live with uncertainty – energy, health care, and huge property tax increases even while school populations are declining.” The governor’s experienced advice to the candidate was to “tell people what you want to accomplish until you’re sick of saying it, and then keep saying it.”
Mullin is running against two very liberal legislators whose ideologically driven voting records speak for themselves. Fisher was elected to the House in 2000, and Sharpe in 2002. Over the ensuing years, they have unfailing voted “yeah” to every liberal, anti-free market, job killing bill that came before the House. Both voted to decommission the states’ most reliable, efficient power source, Vermont Yankee. They voted for a gas tax increase. They voted to impeach President George W. Bush. (Sharpe co-sponsored that bill). Sharpe co-sponsored a bill to eliminate the secret ballot in state employee collective bargaining (Fisher did not vote on that one) and they voted for an anti-hydraulic fracturing (fracking) bill. (In the unlikely event there’s wealth of oil or gas under the Green Mountains). Most egregiously, to many, they wholeheartedly support the “Single Payer Unified Health System” a bill passed gleefully, but without a funding source, that threatens to implode Vermont’s economy with skyrocketing tax increases on businesses and individuals. Fisher is the Chair of the Health Care Committee and a leading sponsor and long-time proponent of a state-run, single payer health care delivery system.
To reward themselves for this body of work, both Fisher and Sharpe voted against a 5% legislative pay cut in 2009, when other Vermonters were seeing their savings and retirement account balances plummet, taking reductions in salaries and benefits (if they weren’t laid off entirely), and generally feeling the full brunt of the onset of the “great recession” that hit nearly every household from Bennington to Jay.
To common sense Vermonters, Mullin should be a breath of fresh air. She is a life-long Vermonter, from humble beginnings, who has struggled, failed and succeeded over her lifetime. She understands the problems associated with running a small business, because she once owned a number of craft stores in Chittenden County. Mullin has lived on a farm and understands the day-to-day, often grueling life of a farm family.
When life took an unexpected downturn, Mullin persevered. When, due to an unanticipated divorce, she found herself suddenly a single mother with an infant son, her work ethic required that she take charge and she found work in a factory to support her family.
Today, Mullin is happily married to her husband, Rob Mullin, a Burlington firefighter. When their youngest son was born, Mullin decided to become a stay-at-home mother, but her version of “stay at home” was a little more active than some. She set her sights on the Mary Kay cosmetic company and soon found herself in the top 2% of Mary Kay representatives in the nation – a job she could excel in while being at home, attending school events and being there for her child.
Mullin exemplifies the working Vermont family. She energetic and driven to succeed, and that’s part of the reason she decided to challenge Fisher and Sharpe for a seat at the table in Montpelier. She’s extremely worried that our current legislature is steering Vermont toward a financial disaster that will make living and doing business in the state so difficult that those with the means to do so will leave, taking their businesses and incomes with them. She says she often had the thought that “somebody should do something”, but when that didn’t happen and Sharpe and Fisher continued to run unopposed, she decided she had to be the “somebody.”
Mullin notes that the Green Mountain Care, the single payer health care bill, was passed through so fast that most people didn’t have a chance to find out what it is, and many still don’t know how it’s going to affect their lives. She noted with some humor that the label of “unified, or universal health care system” is now often substituted for “single payer”
The term single payer is beginning to take on a bad connotation, as it reminds people of the Canadian style system next door. While this system has been lauded for years by liberal statists, with the age of Google, it’s fairly simple to log into accounts of its terrible failures and tragic outcomes.
.“A duck is a duck,” says Mullin. “You can call it an eagle, but it’s still a duck.”
Mullin plans to run her race with all the passion she brings to the rest of her life. She just wants a chance to share her positions with the people she hopes to represent in Montpelier, and she plans to listen to opposing viewpoints with an open mind.
Taking on Fisher and Sharpe might seem a formidable task to some, but Mullin thinks there is enough dissatisfaction in the community to propel her campaign and that at this time in particular, people will be willing to explore another option.
Certainly Vermont needs more people like Mullin who are ready to step out of their comfort zone and tackle today’s mounting difficulties in order to ensure a better future for all Vermonters. Montpelier needs people with business experience, people who have struggled and failed and succeeded, who understand a budget and who know that dreams are for dreamers, but that reality is often a hard cold place where ideology must take a backseat to the stark realities of economics.