The Valley Reporter has reached out to all Vermont candidates for U.S. Congress and Senate and will continue to interview those who respond in the coming weeks.
Molly Gray (D), Lt. Governor of Vermont, is running for the congressional seat that will be vacated by Peter Welch (D) as he runs for U.S. Senate.
“The challenges that we face as a state -- from our child care crisis, our housing crisis, our workforce crisis -- will not be solved by Vermont alone,” Gray said. “We have to have strong federal support and leadership. I believe it’s time for the next generation of bold Vermont leadership to bring our values to Washington and deliver for our state.
“Not only have I spent nearly half a decade working in and with Congress, I served as a federal law clerk working within the federal judicial system. I’ve served statewide as an assistant attorney general. In a moment where we have such diverse challenges, we need a leader who has a diversity of experience to be able to address all of those challenges.
“My top priorities are workforce, child care and housing, in addition to the recognition that climate change is impacting everything we know and love, from our ski areas to our public health to our farmers and food producers. I would support what we’ve done at the local level through strong federal investments in solar and renewable energy, heat pumps to weatherization.
“The housing crisis in Vermont requires a multi-prong approach. One, is the basic water and sewer, building out the capacity for us to build more. Two, we need to make sure that we have the supplies here in this country to build. Three, we have to have the workforce -- electricians, plumbers, carpenters -- to be able to build housing and ensure that housing is affordable and accessible. Right now, it’s not just that Vermonters can’t find housing; they absolutely can’t afford it. I support more investments in making first-time homebuyers able to access homes, making sure that Vermonters are being paid a livable wage so they can afford to live where they work and work where they live.”
Asked if she supports universal pre-K, she said, “I absolutely do. Vermont’s universal pre-K could be a model for the nation. Also, expanding the number of child care workers we have in the workforce. That means addressing student loan debt, making sure that we’re paying a livable wage to those who are committed to teaching our kids and offering early childhood education.”
When asked about paid family leave, she said, “It’s not theoretical for me, it’s personal. When I was in high school my mom was diagnosed with MS [multiple sclerosis]. There have been moments throughout my life, as any child would do, I’ve stepped up to provide care. In March of 2019 when I was serving as an assistant attorney general and teaching law classes at night just to be able to pay off student loans and afford my rent, she got incredibly sick and went into the hospital and we weren’t sure whether she was going to come out. I first used my vacation days, then my sick days, then my accrued personal days to care for her. I thought I was going to need to leave my job or take unpaid leave to care for my mom. Luckily, she got better, but it made me realize that no Vermonter should have to choose between caring for a loved one and paying the bills. If I get to change one thing, if I get to leave Congress having affected something, I hope it is paid family and medical leave for every Vermonter and every American.”
On the subject of reproductive rights, she said, “What concerns me most about what we’re seeing today is we see fundamental rights that we take for granted under attack. It’s not just about access to reproductive care; it’s also access to contraceptives, it’s equal marriage. As Vermont’s Congresswoman, I’ll bring sharp elbows and a fierce understanding of the law, of what it means to protect fundamental rights and fight for them, working to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law but also working to do as much as we can to codify other rights to privacy and fundamental rights into law so we can counter this conservative, destructive Supreme Court.
“I will be a leader on bold climate action, doing everything we can to support climate resilience, supporting our farmers, agriculture, local resilient food systems. When we don’t see our farms and our ski areas thrive, we see our economy suffer. I will be a champion for the Mad River Valley, recognizing that we have to do all we can to protect what’s at the heart of Vermont, and that’s our rural communities.
“I’ve helped lead through this incredibly challenging time for our state with a Republican governor. I’ve worked to put politics aside and focus on serving the state. That’s the kind of leadership we need in Washington right now as we work to address these incredibly serious challenges that are multifaceted for our state and our country.”