Vermont is a beautiful state with tremendous assets, including an abundance of natural resources, a vibrant lifestyle, and a deep culture rooted in the pioneer spirit that the state was founded upon. Vermonters pride themselves on individuality and community; many work hard to stay here not just for what it is now, but also for the state’s potential.
My name is Alex Farrell, and I’m running for the State Senate in Chittenden County. Growing up in Shelburne, I saw first-hand the local value of our schools and the working performance of our educators. We must acknowledge the areas in which our public schools need help as well as their excellence. My teachers at Champlain Valley Union High School shaped me and provided the stepping stones for me to build a career.
While many of my peers left Vermont to attend college elsewhere, I chose to attend the University of Vermont. It’s unfortunate so many of Vermont’s high school graduates leave the state in pursuit of other educational opportunities. Only 29 percent of Vermont high school graduates matriculate to a Vermont higher education institution, and of those who do stay -- 70 percent of them leave.
We have to do better.
When our downtowns are decimated, manufacturing plants close, and long-standing retail anchors shut their doors, it’s a clear sign of declining opportunity for our young people. I was fortunate enough to find employment that has allowed me to stay in Vermont, but with limited opportunities here, I’ve watched the vast majority of my UVM classmates seek jobs out of state. I’ve studied the trends of a rapidly changing business environment, and I know we are not doing enough to empower our businesses to compete in the regional or even global landscapes.
We are living in a world that is increasingly being shaped by e-commerce, big data, and artificial intelligence. We need leaders who can appropriately and responsibly direct our state to remain relevant so we can capitalize on our assets by enabling entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as encourage investment in those pursuits.
Stimulating businesses alone will not be enough to prepare Vermont for the future. We must ensure that our schools are safe, with a dynamic environment and are geared to be cradle-to-career for both professional pursuits as well as the trades. It is crucial that we expand access to Pre-K to begin education during those formative years where education has an enormous impact -- studies show this pays huge dividends for communities and can make it easier on young families seeking childcare. We are cultivating an enormous talent pool in our school systems, and we need to reinvest in entrepreneurial programs like BTV Ignite and Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.
Finally, we need balance. With six senators, Chittenden County has the largest delegation in the state and controls 20 percent of the chamber. All six senators represent one ideology, vote nearly in lockstep, and are running as a slate. Some of these senators have publically disputed the existence of an affordability crisis and the financial hurdles many Vermonters undeniably face. This is unacceptable, and the overburdened taxpayers, homeowners, and business owners of Chittenden County deserve better. I strongly believe that adding a new voice to the delegation will bring a new perspective and a unique insight from a generation looking to call Vermont home.
Our legislators should be focused on creating an environment in which our workers, businesses, students, and retirees all have a chance to live a happy and prosperous life in Vermont. Over the coming months, I hope to earn your support. If you want a senator that will champion Chittenden County as a County of affordability and prosperity, I need your support in November.
Alex Farrell, a life-long Vermonter, UVM graduate, and business professional, is running for the state Senate in Chittenden County to provide balance in our representation and break up the all-Democratic/Progressive bloc. To learn more about his campaign and see his radio and digital ads, go to www.AlexFarrell.org.