This commentary is by Gerald Malloy, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.
One of the benefits of living in one of the smallest populated states in the nation like Vermont should be accessibility, direct contact and engagement with our elected officials, including our two United States senators and our single House representative.
However, when constituents try to reach Senators Leahy and Sanders, or even Representative Welch, most of the time they never get the opportunity to talk to them directly. What happens too often is that their telephone calls, emails, and any other attempt for an in-person meeting or communication are vetted by a third party such as their staff members and handlers.
This is why these officials, in large measures, are out-of-touch with the people, and one of the reasons why the federal government is a huge turnoff for many Vermont constituents who try to navigate it.
When officials lose sight and knowledge of their own people, well, they forget that they’re supposed to be working for the people. It is their job to engage with and materialize the true interests and will of their Vermont residents, and stay connected. As a Vermont parent with three children in Vermont schools, I am not disconnected from the challenges Vermonters currently face.
I pledge that when I am elected U.S. senator, there will be full accountability and transparency. My first and foremost priority will be personally meeting and communicating with Vermonters who have any specific requests or issues. Additionally, when I am in one of my offices, I will work hard to make sure that my door is always open so any Vermonter will be able to see firsthand what is going on and what changes are being made (instead of a traditional closed-door, off-limits, prohibitive syndrome).
Furthermore, the names of all my staff members, together with their photos, titles, e-mails and phone numbers, will be readily and easily available. At the present time, this is not the case for many of these people working in the offices of Leahy, Sanders, and Welch, as they are often difficult to identify.
I also pledge that if there is a meeting request made by an industry or special interest group, it will have to originate through a Vermont resident, not some random entity with no regard for the state or the people’s interest.
My goal will be to make personal visits at least once a year to every county in the State of Vermont — not just to present speeches like Leahy, Sanders, and Welch, but also to listen and learn about the needs and concerns of Vermonters.
I also promise to operate an office in the southern part of Vermont (in addition to one in the north). It is unfair to expect a Vermonter to have to travel several hours for a meeting with their U.S. senator.
I am a Vermont citizen and I understand the frustration and disappointment of so many Vermonters who have tried to reach out to Leahy, Sanders, or Welch about an issue, concern, or general desire, only to be discouraged by an indifferent response, or worst case, even no response at all. My priority as your U.S. senator will be to correct and improve upon this process of communication, to be fully accessible in serving all Vermonters.