Editorial, Letters to the Editor

Reflections on 46 Years of Service

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To the editor:

On Monday, June 17, the Vermont Legislature completed its work of the 2023-2024 biennium and it’s a little bit bittersweet for me. For the first time in 46 years, I won’t be seeking reelection to the Vermont Senate in this year’s November election and I will retire at the end of my present term next January.

As you look at a ruler or a yardstick, and if you’re up toward 82 you’re getting pretty near the end. My wife and my son have gone without me for a number of years. There are things that Anita and I would like to do and places we’d like to go, where it’s warmer in the winter and to spend time with grandkids.

It’s been an honor to represent this region for years in the legislature. It’s always gone quite well, I think. We accomplished a lot of things, screwed up a few things. You’ve got to take the bad with the good. You certainly don’t win them all, but I think for the most part, we’ve won our share.

Growing up on a farm, going to agriculture college and many years driving the lime truck for farmers, I wanted to represent the folks that I’ve worked with off and on for years by being on the Agriculture Committee. We’ve had some big policy achievements over the years: the brokering of the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact, which set bulk milk prices for New England dairy farmers; the establishment of Vermont’s working Lands Enterprise Initiative, a state program which supports agricultural and forestry industries; the creation of Vermont Technical College and University of Vermont’s 2 + 2 scholarship program for aspiring farmers; and the state’s funding of universal school meals to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of income.

Over the years, I’ve been a pretty lonely Democrat, you know, and the people here in the Kingdom have looked at me sort of as a middle of the road guy. I’d served years on the North Country Supervisory Union board that did the negotiations for the teachers contract a few years in a row. So I had quite a lot of experience dealing with folks before I ever got to Montpelier. We’ve got a good crew down there and I’ve worked well with them all. Of course, I can work with most anybody, as long as they’re breathing and have a smile once in a while.

We need strong representation in Montpelier. If you go way back, we’ve had Kerm Smith, Vince Illuzzi, Jim Greenwood, Mike Metcalf, and others over the years and with our current representatives, there’s always been good folks representing us. I’m glad to see that Katherine Sims is stepping up to run for my seat. We need somebody strong that can take my place and do well for all of us up here in the Kingdom. It’s going to take some strong-willed people to keep that check and balance in place. Katherine has done well for us in the House. She is a leader who really cares about keeping our communities healthy and well. Katherine works hard to support our way of life and I know she can carry on my legacy of keeping close to the people from the Kingdom and advocating for what we need.

It’s been a good run. I’ve enjoyed representing all you folks and doing my best to help the Northeast Kingdom. I certainly need to thank my family for letting me do this, and thank all you folks for electing me year after year. So with that, thank you very much.

Senator Robert “Bobby” Starr

Troy

Robert “Bobby” Starr

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