At age 23, Paul Matthew Bean, of Northfield, has already made successful ventures into e-commerce as a resident of Vermont. And while he believes that individuals have the ability to take the initiative to achieve success in their lives, he says he doesn’t see current leadership in Montpelier embracing this notion — and it’s part of why he’s running for state Senate.
“The young people of the state, they are leaving in droves,” Bean told True North in an interview. “That’s not an encouraging trend for anyone because you need a strong economy and a diversity of ages and demographics of all kinds to make it affordable for everyone.”
The young entrepreneur has a degree in public communications from UVM, and his campaign has obtained notable endorsements from Gov. Phil Scott, former Gov. Jim Douglas and former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie.
He lists his goals for Vermont on his campaign on his website, Paul Bean for Vermont.
Bean started his career by launching an online sales company that focused on trading old books. Now he works for a larger sales operation in Barre.
“I still have that business, but I’m not as involved in it now,” he said. “I’ve moved into a position with a company called Fortune Marketing in Barre, and they sell really anything you can think of.”
Bean said he’s proud to have taken the initiative to earn extra money during college.
“It was really awesome and I’m proud of that,” he said. “That is what led me into this position of being brave enough to stand and run for office, because, you know, I proved to myself early in life that if you have an idea or something that you want to do, there’s really nothing holding you back other than yourself.”
Bean has family roots in the Green Mountain State dating back at least six generations. In addition, he grew up aspiring to start his own businesses.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that [because of] my life experience so far in the business world — as a young man who’s tried to do things, have my own businesses, to work the way that I have — I think I will always be keeping in mind the little guy, like myself,” Bean said.
“I think it’s really important to have thriving businesses in Vermont of all sizes, and I think the legislature for whatever reason has lost sight of having a business-positive mindset, and I think it’s unfortunate. And I also think it’s because of a lack of experience in a lot of those people.”
Nonetheless, Bean says Vermont has opportunities for young entrepreneur types.
“There’s almost like this feeling as if there’s really nothing for us here and people really feel that way, but that’s not true,” Bean said.
Speaking on the issue of education, he noted that his mother teaches first grade at Northfield Elementary School, and that while public education has its challenges, there are still many good people working within the system.
Even so, he added that his educational experience isn’t what prepared him for his career ambitions.
“I have this drive and this mindset — and there was almost nothing in my school that was conducive to this,” he said. “I went to the University of Vermont and pretty much enjoyed my experience. But at the end of the day, there could have been better avenues for me or someone like me.”
Bean’s Senate race for the Washington-1 District is a crowded one — six candidates, three from each major party, are competing for three seats. Two incumbents are Sen. Ann Cummings, a Democrat, and Sen. Andrew Perchlik, a Progressive Democrat. Another Democrat candidate, Anne Watson, is also with the Progressive Party.
Watson, the mayor of Montpelier and a 17-year high school physics and math teacher, also lists her policy positions on her campaign page. On energy policy, Watson says we must do “everything we can to ramp up our transition off of fossil fuels.” She also would like to see paid family leave become law. “No one should have to worry about their income while their loved ones are ill,” she writes on he campaign website.
One of Bean’s Republican challengers is Dwayne Tucker. He’s been in the construction business and has academic degrees in civil and environmental engineering. While running for State Senate in 2018 Tucker expressed frustration with liberal policies such as carbon taxes and excessive spending.
The other GOP opponent is Middlesex engineer and farmer Dexter Lefavour. In August, he told VTDigger that he’s against energy policies that drive up prices, such as the carbon tax or Clean Heat Standard.
“Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and everyday Vermonters are struggling under the burdens placed on us by ever-growing government bureaucracy,” Lefavour said.