Washington-7 state representative Maxine Grad, Moretown is stepping down after 22 years leaving open a seat in the Vermont Legislature representing Washington 7, which includes Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown, Duxbury and Fayston which is a two-member district. Kari Dolan (D) is running for reelection for the other seat This week, The Valley Reporter spoke with both of the other candidates for Washington County’s state rep who have thrown their hats in the ring so far -- Dara Torre (D) and Rebecca Baruzzi (I).
Torre has lived in Moretown with her family for 18 years. Her professional background is in nonprofits and grant writing. She previously worked in public health in Colorado, where she worked under Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“When I moved to Moretown there wasn’t much in the way of child care,” she said. She and other community members helped each other care for their children while working. She got involved in local schools and helped put in a sidewalk in Moretown by the school and library so kids could safely walk to school. She secured a grant to fund the project. “That was a really eye-opening experience,” she said. “It took a long time.”
She joined the Moretown Planning Commission and continues to serve as Moretown’s representative on the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission. She also worked for the Mad River Valley Planning District and has worked part-time at Sugarbush for years, from the day care center to the ski and ride school. One of her favorite jobs was a coordinator at the Evergreen Place Senior Center in Waitsfield. Currently, she is a member of a clean energy policy group based in Montpelier as a coordinator for the U.S. program. The organization also works on energy policy in India, China, and Europe. “I have a huge commitment to climate action and the goals we have as a state. I see where we need help from a policy perspective,” Torre said.
Affordability is one of her top priorities if elected. “Part of that for me is workforce and training. It feeds into the overarching climate focus that I have. The other focus I have is I want to see our caretaking capacity improved. I want to help expand professional opportunities and pay for the people who do the caretaking, who raise up our young children and care for our elders. I’m excited about the whole range of opportunities to be part of the innovation around these areas and to bring it home and take input and ideas and hear about issues from the constituents here to help prioritize where I will spend my efforts. I would love to be on the climate caucus. I have this interest in public health as well.
“I step up when I see something that needs to be done. I’ve been invited to a lot of different discussions, a lot of different roles [in The Valley.] There’s just been so much invitation to try new things. There’s opportunity to grow and take risks here politically because our community is the way it is. It’s a kind community. I wouldn’t be running for office anywhere.
“I have had good success in the community projects I’ve been involved in with a lot of people wanting to see it succeed and bring different things and questions that need to be asked. I’ve been nurtured by this community and developed my civic life here. In a lot of ways, I’ve been in training for this. I feel energized and ready to take on this campaign.”