Thursday February 06, 2014
After the passing of his wife, the late Sen. Sally Fox, on Jan. 10, 2014 due to illness, South Burlington attorney and lobbyist Michael Sirotkin set out to fulfill her request: fill her seat in the Vermont Senate and carry out the rest of her term. On Monday, Jan. 27, Gov. Peter Shumlin officially appointed Sirotkin to take Fox’s seat.
Sirotkin informed the Chittenden County Democratic Committee of his interest the Tuesday evening prior to the appointment by the Governor.
“After much soul searching and encouragement from others, I decided I would welcome the opportunity if given such honor by your Committee and the Governor,” Sirotkin wrote to the Chittenden County Democratic Committee. “It is hard to imagine anyone filling Sally’s shoes with the grace, dignity and enthusiasm she displayed throughout her lifetime.”
After hearing about Sirotkin’s candidacy, other candidates proceeded to drop out of the race in order to endorse him. The first to do so was Jake Perkinson, former Vermont Democratic Party chairman and a strong leading contender for Fox’s seat. Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) and Tim Jerman (D-Essex) followed suit.
The Chittenden County Democratic Committee narrowed the selection to three candidates: Sirotkin, Williston Selectboard member Debbie Ingram and Burlington management consultant Dawn Ellis. Sirotkin received the most votes (68 votes; Ingram: 33 votes; Ellis: 20 votes), and Shumlin expressed confidence in the decision in a written statement:
“There were several exceptional candidates interested in this Senate seat,” Shumlin said in the written statement. “But Sally wanted her husband to fill her seat after her death, and recognizing Sirotkin’s strong qualifications, I’m honoring that request. I’m confident that Michael will continue the great work Sally did for the district and the state.” In his new role as a Chittenden County State Senator, Sirotkin has committed to closing another door to fully devote himself to this new opportunity.
Therefore, Sirotkin will resign from his practice and conclude over 30 years of Vermont policy advocacy. He will also relinquish his stake in the firm he co-founded in Montpelier, Siroktin & Necrason, which he started with Adam Necrason in 1998.
The firm works on a variety of issues such as labor unions, affordable housing, the civil justice bar, and land conservation.
Over the course of those years, Sirotkin worked with several clients reflecting his commitment to humanitarian efforts. Some of his clients include: Working Vermont, Vermont Troops Association, Community of Vermont Elders, United Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, and Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council.
According to Sirotkin’s profile on the Sirotkin & Necrason firm web site, he is responsible for notable legislative changes such as the United States’ first statewide clean indoor act, the nation’s first health care ombudsman, as well as a constitutional amendment barring age discrimination against judges.
Though the lobbying days will cease, Sirotkin said he wishes to carry out the work of his wife, a woman who strongly advocated for underprivileged Vermonters.
“I have built a successful government relations practice and having to give that up was not an easy decision,” Sirotkin said. “but I decided that I would prefer to use these next years in this period in my life to continue the work that Sally had done.”
When asked what he’s learned from his wife and what he’d carry over to fulfill his new role, Sirotkin replied:
“Sally has taught me to be thorough and compassionate and to work hard on behalf of the constituents. She was full of energy and enthusiastic.”
Sirotkin will take office Feb. 11. He also said he would likely go above and beyond Fox’s wishes and run again in 2014 for a full two-year term.
Sirotkin has been a South Burlington resident since 2006. He has two sons, and he also volunteers for the city as a Development Review Board member.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent