Although I am not a native Vermonter, I have lived here in Central Vermont for the past 37 years, initially on Liberty and Pearl streets in Montpelier and now off West Hill Road in West Berlin. Both of my children were educated in Montpelier schools.
I started work as a hearing officer at the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, resolving workers’ compensation claims. Subsequently I was an associate and partner in a Burlington law firm and later counsel to Governors Snelling and Dean. In 1993, I left the Fifth floor to open my own law practice on Main Street in Montpelier. In 2000 I closed that office and became general counsel and claims vice president to Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company, with offices on State Street. In 2008 I became president and CEO of Union Mutual, and retired in 2014. My wife and I now operate a farm that produces maple syrup, hay and vegetables.
Prior to coming to Vermont I worked as reporter and editor in New Hampshire and New York. I am a graduate of Dartmouth College and Brooklyn Law School. I am married to Elizabeth “Wibs” McLain, a former Vermont legislator and top advisor to governors Snelling, Dean and Douglas.
I have been active in social and community affairs. I was president of the Mozart Festival when I worked in Burlington. I chaired the Kellogg Hubbard Library when it underwent its major expansion. I have served as president of the Central Vermont Economic Development Corp. I am active in Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier, and currently chair the Board of Civil Authority in Berlin.
Enough history. Why should people vote for me?
First, I think I bring breadth of experience and accomplishment that could be useful in the state house. There are many issues on which I have no opinion but a willingness to learn, and at the end of the day I tend to be a practical problem solver.
Second, I come with a strong bias in favor of the private sector, having spent all but three years of my life in private business. This is not a background that is common in our statehouse, yet business, small and large, is still the backbone of our lives and the initiator of most of the advances we make as a society. (Think newspapers, automobiles, cell phones, personal computers, etc.) Government must at times keep business “honest” but must also appreciate the benefits that business provides. Too often in this state I think our politicians do not act in this way.
Third, I am convinced that the health of our nation and state rests on the health of our middle class, which is currently not good. However, unlike other politicians, I don’t think that government subsidies and payments will make the patient well. Instead, I believe we need to improve our business and tax climate to improve the wages of the middle class and to reduce the costs it has to bear. We need to put people in a place where through hard work and diligence, they can improve the wellbeing of themselves and their families, as Americans have done for centuries. Now this is not easily accomplished, but you know now how I’d approach it.
Fourth, I promise to be honest about the problems and my ideas for fixing them. I am only running for this office because I couldn’t find others to do it, and at 68 years of age I don’t envision a lifetime in politics. So, if elected, from day one my first thought won’t be about winning in 2018. Now that may be good or bad, depending upon your point of view, but I think it’s good. And so, might I add, does my wife.