Advocacy for all Vermonters

by Bruce Lisman

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have met and spoken with so many Vermonters as co-founder of Campaign for Vermont. Our policy ideas have come from you and our growing influence comes from your support.

As some may know, I have led a recent effort to expand our board with diverse representation from across the state, which Louise McCarren now chairs, and assisted the organization with the hiring of its first executive director in Cyrus Patten.

I believe it’s the right moment to add more structure to our young organization. These organizational components will provide the essential foundation to ensure that CFV continues to grow and expand its base of support as well as its ability to influence public policy.

Our beginnings were modest—we started with just three founding officers, 23 founding partners, hardly a following at all.

Today—we’ve grown into a well-positioned, non-partisan advocacy organization that is working to ensure Vermont realizes economic security and shared prosperity for all. CFV has more than 1,100 partners (individuals who lend their name in support of the organization’s goals) and nearly 13,000 Facebook ‘followers.’ These are large numbers of people in a state as small as ours and from an organization so new.

Since 2010, I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel around our great state and meet with folks from all walks of life – farmers, business owners, artists, health care providers, teachers, and the list goes on.

As part of CFV, we’ve spoken with all kinds of citizen groups, participated in more than 100 event days between July and October of this year, have hosted nearly two dozen forums in which the community spoke on a wide variety of issues, and have had more than a thousand meetings with individual Vermonters.

Our conversations with Vermonters have been informative and constructive in facilitating the very development of CFV and its proposed solutions to some of Vermont’s most pressing challenges. The dialogue I’ve had with thoughtful people from every corner of the state has breathed life into CFV and given a future to an organization that now aims to return the favor by looking out for the future of Vermont.

Campaign for Vermont has developed policy statements on important matters including education and property taxes, government transparency and accountability, energy, and ethics standards for public officials.

CFV has advocated for practical solutions, and, in its first year of advocating on behalf of Vermonters in the State House, has already started to influence a robust conversation on ethics standards for public officials, reform of state government, and education and property tax reform.

We’ve conducted extensive research on ethics standards, directly influenced the creation of a bill—H.846, and spent hours in the Senate Government Operations Committee testifying on S.200 promoting comprehensive ethics standards for Vermont’s public officials this winter.

To get a bill introduced, create a statewide public discussion and have both House and Senate members considering legislation on an issue, reaffirms that the organization is making measurable progress. It shows the organization’s great momentum and potential for influencing public policy discussions for the betterment of Vermont and its residents.

I am very proud of the progress we’ve made at this early stage and am deeply thankful for those who welcomed us to speak before their group and who have contributed their time and talent to help us develop policy ideas.

I’m excited by what the future holds for Campaign for Vermont and appreciative to all those caring citizens, who like me love our State, that have put progress ahead of partisanship and joined our conversation for a better Vermont.

I believe Campaign for Vermont is poised to influence real, positive change for the future of Vermont.

Bruce Lisman lives in Shelburne and is a co-founder of Campaign for Vermont.