VT Digger Candidate Profile

VT Digger asked each candidate across the state to complete a candidate survey for their online news website. They asked specific questions and required strict 1,000 character length limits. Below are my answers. You can see the full questionnaire on the VT Digger website.

Biography

Ruth is a mother and community leader. She served 3 terms on local school boards, including as chair of the Middlebury ID#4 School Board and co-chair of the Charter Committee which organized the Addison Central School District. She then led the new ACSD Board finance committee through the creation of the first unified budget. Ruth is Executive Director of Emerge VT, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. Ruth previously worked as assistant budget director at Middlebury College, grants director at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and director of the Open Door Clinic. Ruth began her career as a non-partisan fiscal analyst for the WI legislature. Ruth is the mother of 3 teenage children. She grew up in central NY, where her family lived for several years on a small family farm. Her mother was a teacher and her father a state civil servant. She lives in East Middlebury with her children, husband, dog, weedy gardens, and a shed full of mice.

Educational History

  • Bachelor of Arts (1988-92) – Oberlin College. Government major, Women’s Studies minor.
  • Master’s of Public Affairs (1994-96) – Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. Thesis: Intergovernmental-Nonprofit Partnerships in Housing for People Living with HIV/AIDS. Policy Research Project: Women in Mexican Politics.
  • Vermont Leadership Institute (2012-13) – Snelling Center for Government

What changes if any would you make to improve healthcare for Vermonters?

As a mother, I know that when your child is sick, being able to see a doctor without worrying how you’ll pay for it is crucial. Through my work at the Open Door Clinic and PPNNE, I know first-hand that many Vermonters struggle to access health care. I am in favor of advancing Universal Primary Care for all Vermonters, including access to mental health, addiction prevention and treatment, reproductive, and dental health services. These primary care services should be locally accessible and welcoming for all Vermonters. I know that health care is a huge cost for families and individuals, our state and local governments, small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and large employers too. As an experienced public finance & budget professional, I am committed to working toward a financially responsible solution to delivering healthcare to all Vermonters.

What changes would you make to improve Vermont’s education system?

We need to ensure our schools are more equitable, student-focused, and sustainable. As a school board leader, I advocated for right-sized budgets that invested in student support systems, expanded curriculum, fair compensation, bias-free schools, and energy efficient facilities. We streamlined governance and targeted reductions to areas with declining enrollments where efficiencies were most feasible. We need similar approaches statewide, while also respecting inclusive local decision-making and celebrating our public schools and educators. We must better support our higher education system and improve student access. Too few VT students complete a college degree because we don’t adequately invest in our state colleges and students. We need to better integrate technical education into high schools and ensure relevant investments in workforce development and training. We need to ensure Vermonters have better access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education and infant care.

What would you do to help low-income Vermonters?

Many low-income Vermonters do not have sufficient access to the tools necessary to maintain meaningful employment, support their families, and live healthy lives, such as adequate housing, childcare, transportation, and healthy foods. I would work to pass legislation that expands affordable housing options near town centers with access to employment and services. I would work on rural public transportation systems to enable people without cars to get to work, appointments, and shopping. I would explore options to expand school lunch programs to cover non-school days and additional family members. I would prioritize the passage of a paid family leave program so family members can be together during times of illness or the arrival of a new child without the financial stress. I would work to expand childcare options close to parents’ places of employment. I would support fair, adequate, and equitable wages for all employees.

Where do you think state spending should be increased/decreased?

I know there are areas in our state budget which should be increased or decreased, but until I am able to more intimately analyze the budget I can’t say for certain where. I am a budget “geek” and have worked on budgets of all sizes and purpose. I was a fiscal analyst for the WI Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the equivalent of VT’s Joint Fiscal Office, covering K-12 and higher education. State budgets are not easily understood from the outside. They are not abstract political games. State budgets are complex expressions of our collective public priorities. I will work with colleagues to identify budget efficiencies, like I did as a school board member and a Middlebury College budget staffer. I also believe the way to fuel change is to target investments where they’ll have a big impact, to programs that support people, families, and communities in meaningful ways. I can’t wait to dig into the state budget with colleagues to create responsible, effective state budgets.

Where do you stand on the gun bills?

I support the gun violence prevention legislation passed this session. Gun violence in America is a public health epidemic. In VT, most gun deaths are the result of suicide and domestic violence. VT is also not immune to the proliferation of school shootings. Misogyny, hate, and multi-generational domestic abuse have fueled gun-related violence to the point where many people do not feel safe in their homes or schools. Legislation to prevent access to firearms for individuals who are prone to harm themselves or others is vital. I grew up in a home where my brother owned guns for hunting and target practice. I support my friends and neighbors who use firearms responsibly. I know hunting and gun sports are part of our culture and history, and I commit to learning more from people for whom this tradition is important. I also firmly believe that the right of people to feel safe in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities outweighs the blanket right to possess weapons.

What would be your priority issue if elected, and what would you do to address it?

As a mother and feminist, my priorities would begin with advocating for policy changes that improve the lives and status of women in our state, including paid family leave, improved access to high-quality childcare, fair and equitable pay, domestic violence prevention, comprehensive sexual harassment policies, job training in high paying sectors, student loan reduction, access to capital, and bias and discrimination prevention and reparation. Nationally, 25% of elected officials are women, and research shows that when women are at the table, women’s perspectives and priorities are better addressed. Communities thrive when women thrive.  Policies and programs that help Vermont women help all Vermonters.