Helen Head

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Thursday October 27, 2016

Rep. Helen Head, District 7-3
Party: Democratic

Education Bachelor of Arts, University of New Hampshire
Master of Public Administration, University of
Years as SB
resident: 24

1. What skills and experience uniquely qualify you for the position of State Representative?

I am proud to have represented the residents of Chittenden 7-3, South Burlington, in the Statehouse since January 2004. This work requires a passion for representing the interests of our residents, strong knowledge of state government, and an even-handed approach to respectfully working with people from across the political spectrum. Forty years of professional experience working with elders, people with disabilities, children, and families have helped form my special concerns: the needs to achieve economic development grounded in workplace fairness and to create significantly more affordable housing while ensuring thoughtful growth and environmental protection.

2. What is the most important statewide legislative issue to be addressed in the upcoming term, and what specific solutions do you suggest or support in overcoming the problem? 

Further developing our economy and creating livable, sustainable, family-friendly jobs are the most important statewide issues. Vermont has made great strides in the agricultural, energy, and tech sectors. We need to do more. I will continue this work, building on our unique qualities to ensure that Vermont’s growth is compatible with our values. For starters, we must focus on areas where we are exporting Vermont investments that could be reinvested in state. The definitions of employee and independent contractor should be clarified in our statutes, while we implement a family paid leave plan and increase the minimum wage.   

3. What are the key issues 1) in your own district, and 2) in the City of South Burlington? How will you address these locally and on the state level? 

As I walk door to door through the district this fall, residents talk about the need for livable wage jobs; the high cost of education and health care; the cost and availability of housing; climate change; and development of City Center. Some approaches to these issues are clearly local, such as the upcoming City Center vote, March school budget vote, and possible future action on school consolidation. I will continue to meet with city councilors and school board members to understand these issues and how we can work together.

At the state level, I look forward to reading the year-end report on Vermont Health Connect’s strengths and weaknesses, and making changes that are called for in that program. I will strive to link workplace education and training programs more closely to the needs of Vermont employers, in addition to the job-related initiatives cited in question 2 above. Addressing climate change requires examining the effects of this year’s renewable energy siting bill and measuring progress on achieving our renewable energy goals, while increasing energy conservation. I will carefully evaluate expected suggestions to revise our education finance system, for both K-12 and post-secondary education, and work for excellence, fairness and affordability.

4. What specific priorities or objectives do you hope to accomplish if elected? 

My highest priorities are: 1) economic development grounded in educational opportunity and workplace fairness; and 2) affordable housing creation and preservation through responsible, creative financing. These priorities are achievable with thoughtful planning and continued reliance on environmental conservation and protection.

I have three additional priorities. The first is addressing our major opiate crisis through education and treatment rather than incarceration. The second is extending South Burlington’s success in improving water quality to statewide work cleaning up Lake Champlain, our rivers, and our streams. Finally, we must envision and create a racially and culturally diverse Vermont with opportunities for all.