A write-in candidate’s emergence in Colchester’s Chittenden 9-2 House district means only two Republican candidates will move on to November’s general election.

Pam Loranger joins incumbent Patrick Brennan and newcomer John Nagle III for a now-three-way race for two seats on the Republican ticket. Democrats Herb Downing, a Colchester selectman, and Sarita Austin, a town planning commissioner, will go into the general unopposed.

So voters can get to know the candidates, the Colchester Sun posed them a series of questions, giving a 400-word limit to split between three answers. They were also asked to provide a short biography.

Downing was on vacation and did not respond to our emails by press time. Another round of questions will be posed to the primary victors before the general election.

Next week’s Sun will feature the Chittenden 9-1 candidates.

Here are the questions and each candidate’s responses:

  1. Why are you running for office, and why are you qualified to serve?
  2. If elected, what will be your main priority and why?
  3. How should the state address education funding in the future?

Sarita Austin

SARITA AUSTIN
Democrat

Bio

  • Born in Boston
  • Education and career: Graduated from Newton South HS, Windham College in Putney, BA; UVM MEd-Teacher Education, UVM MS-School Counseling, elementary teacher, school counselor at Essex Middle School
  • Community service: Williston School Board, CVU School Board, Essex Town Safety Committee, Williston Safety Committee, WFD/EMT, Colchester Planning Commission, volunteer at Respite Home

1.I am running for office because I am concerned about the increasing erosion of local control of our community schools. The responsibility of a community to decide on what their vision is for their children is a longstanding tradition in Vermont.

As a former educator I have an insight on how local control has a strong influence on school quality and student outcomes. As a past school board member I understand the trade offs that need to be made in order contain costs.

2. If elected my main priority will be to work with other members of the Legislature to develop a funding system to address the rising costs of public education. A high performing school system not only provides Vermont children with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they will need to be successful in the future but is also an economic driver for the community.

3. The largest expenditure that any town or city makes is the funding of its schools. Vermont needs to develop a sustainable funding formula that maintains school quality and is shared equitably among taxpayers.

Pat Brennan

PATRICK BRENNAN
Republican, Incumbent

Bio

  • Seeking re-election for 9th term
  • Serve on House Transportation Committee; chairman for last 10 years. Transportation has become a passion throughout the years and has also led me to a position as chairman of the Council of State Governments, ECRC Transportation Committee and its executive council.
  • My love of the outdoors has provided me an opportunity to become involved with the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucus, which I co-chair, and in addition, have served 2 terms on its executive council.
  • I look forward to continuing both missions in the future and ask for your support.

1. I am once again asking Colchester voters for their support and vote in both the primary and general election this year. There are a lot of reasons for my decision to run for a ninth term. First I believe in Vermont and all that it has to offer. As you know Colchester has 27 miles of lakefront. The crown jewel as it’s been called. Well folks the crown jewel is in trouble and needs our attention. I plan to closely monitor all legislation that addresses water quality. In addition taxes continue to rise. This trend needs to be reversed and Vermont needs to start living within its means. We have to do that in our daily lives. Why should state government be any different? And as always we have to keep an eye on our infrastructure.

2. My main priority is keeping Vermonters in Vermont. To do that it has to be more affordable. Lower taxes, more job opportunities, and a quality yet affordable education system is a must. A more predictable permitting process will make Vermont a more attractive place to do business. Let’s face the facts. We are not a business friendly state folks. I am a native Vermonter and very proud of our heritage. I intend to continue to work hard towards these goals and again ask your support in helping to accomplish them.

3. As I said earlier a quality education system is key to both ensuring a vibrant and plentiful workforce and keeping our graduates in Vermont by providing quality employment opportunities for them. Ed funding has been a hot topic in Montpelier but for some reason whenever we have what I believe to be some real workable solutions on the table, legislation seems to stall out. I’ll be honest folks I do not have a magic fix for funding education, but I will commit to supporting any legislation that will streamline our funding of education. We have some really bright folks with a variety of solutions both in Montpelier and here locally. I look forward to supporting meaningful education reform in the next biennium.   

Pam Loranger

PAMELA LORANGER
Republican

Bio

  • Born and raised in Montpelier
  • UVM: liberal arts; Trinity College: business administration; Champlain College: medical coding
  • Married
  • Co-owner, Preston Property Management and Leasing Services, established 1990
  • Volunteer: Food shelf, Historical Society Log Schoolhouse
  • Vermont Citizen Planner of the Year & Colchester Selectboard Resolution, 2017
  • Boards and commissions
    • Conservation, 1998- present (Colchester Blooms, Leaf Drop, Green Up)
    • Planning, 2007-18 (chairwoman)
    • Cemetery Advisory, 2015-18 (chairwoman)
    • District 4 Environmental/Act 250, 2018
    • Civil Board, Justice of the Peace, Republican Party County Treasurer, Stormwater Advisory (2015-17)
    • Firearm Safety, 2014-15
    • Governance, 2013, secretary
    • Colchester Community Center Initiative, 2011-14

1. I have been honored to serve Colchester for 20 years and now it is time to up the ante. It has been my privilege to hear your voices over a broad spectrum of issues and I consistently strive to reflect your concerns in my service. I continue to believe local government is the best government, but the broader policy issues are addressed in Montpelier. I believe many Vermonters are underserved and underrepresented in Montpelier. Our economy and private sector employment must thrive so people can afford to live here without the crushing burden of taxes, fees and regulations that drive the cost of living beyond most Vermonter’s resources. We did not arrive at this point overnight and the effort to reverse this trend must be energetic and deliberate. I am committed to representing Colchester in Montpelier with the same determination and diligence I have demonstrated over the past 20 years. I demand nothing less from myself, you should expect no less from me.

2. Spending. Just Stop. Period. If those of us who must balance our check books can, with pittance left, pay our taxes, certainly government can do a better job with the money we provide. Soaring property taxes are required to meet unfettered demands. Between the special interest groups and lobbyists, our neighbors have lost their seats at the table. There are advocates galore for everyone in Montpelier except for the man and woman who every day manage to work one, if not more than one job, provide financial and structural stability for their family and still honor their obligations as a taxpayer. It is time to stop being the waiters at the table while others chow down. Gratuitous generosity must be replaced with compassionate austerity.

3. Until such time as the state can draw a straight line from the taxpayers wallet to the investment in our education, we will continue to be plagued with an unfathomable formula that only gets more confusing every time lawmakers, to date, get their hands on it. Four years ago, I wrote, “Reform Act 60 and 68”: Yet here we are. The burden on our taxes continue to grow and the plot becomes more convoluted. This education debacle is only rivaled by our inability to address unfunded liabilities. It is time to roll up our sleeves and with defined determination do the hard work to get this genie back in the bottle.

John Nagle III

JOHN L. NAGLE III
Republican

Bio

  • Single father for 17 years. Dealt with bias nature of child support enforcement and am owed over $107,000 in back child support
  • Operate Nagle’s Welding and have punched clock for someone else
  • Experienced workers comp and how badly injured workers are treated
  • Understand struggle working parents face and live it daily
  • Overtaxing and bad regulations affect businesses
  • Support Vermont and U.S. Constitutions and Bill of Rights, including Articles 16 and 2A
  • Educate, don’t indoctrinate, children
  • Need stiffer penalties for heroin/ fentanyl dealers
  • Believe in government of the people, by the people, for the people

1.We need new people who are not a part of the “clique” that know what it’s like in the real world, that know you can’t spend more than you make. I know how to say no and vote no on issues that do not make sense. Taxes are hurting the every day people, business and people are fleeing Vermont for better economical conditions, we must change direction to change Vermont. This course is leading us to a major failure.

2. Vermont needs to be business friendly. WalletHub has Vermont ranked 4th worst state to start a business. Vermont ranks 4th with highest tax burden. And 50th in least populated 624,000 and shrinking. We need to allow business in and grow the population, to reduce taxes overall, for all.

3. Vermont spends $1.6 billion to educate 77,000 children almost 20k per child. That’s 2x more than before Act 60 was introduced. And the return on investment is low as many students end up moving away from Vermont to better economical situations. To answer honestly, there are too many variables involved to give you a definite answer. Our enrollment is shrinking and so is our tax base. We need local control again and we need fairness to the taxpayers. When schools are paying a 40 percent tip to cab drivers for transporting children, which ends up being thousands of dollars paid by end of the year. The word audit the schools comes to mind. See if we can find some savings.