March was a busy month for Helen Riehle. She was elected to chair the South Burlington City Council on March 5, and on Wednesday, March 29, she was sworn in as Chittenden County’s newest state senator. Governor Peter Shumlin appointed Riehle to fill the seat recently vacated by Diane Snelling, who stepped down from the legislature to chair the state’s Natural Resources Board.
Montpelier is familiar territory for Riehle, who previously served in the Vermont Legislature in two different roles. She represented Chittenden County as state senator from 1993-2000, where she chaired the Health and Welfare, Administrative Rules, and the Health Access Oversight Committees. She was also a member of the Natural Resources and Energy and General Affairs and Housing Committees. Riehle served as a state representative from 1983-1992, and was a member of the Health and Welfare and Appropriations Committees. Riehle will serve on the Natural Resources Committee, as did Snelling.
Gov. Shumlin had the option of making a direct appointment, or choosing from among nominees from the respective political parties to fill Snelling’s seat for the remainder of the term. Previously, Gov. Shumlin has requested submissions from the parties. However, the governor chose to make a direct appointment because the legislative adjournment date is only a month away and because of Riehle’s experience representing Chittenden County.
“With the session winding to a close, it is important for Chittenden County to have a senator right away who is ready to hit the ground running,” Gov. Shumlin said. “I could not think of a person in a better position to do that than Helen, and I appreciate her willingness to serve out the remainder of Sen. Snelling’s term.”
Riehle is pleased to represent Chittenden County again. She said, “I was very honored when the Governor asked me to consider completing Sen. Diane Snelling’s term. I always have treasured my time in the legislature and to have the opportunity to return for just a brief period was so enticing that after careful consideration I said yes! I am confident that this brief stint will not impact my ability to chair the council and feel comfortable to take on the challenge of the final weeks of the legislature. Diane and I share similar perspectives on many issues, we are both moderate Republicans so it seemed very natural to continue in her place and likely that I could serve the county well. The first week was intense but felt as if I had never left--many familiar faces, colleagues and process.”