As is tradition for the Speaker of the House, I kicked off the session with the opening day remarks to the House of Representatives. I’d like to share with you the requests I made to my colleagues:
“The first ask is for civility and respect- for each other, for the many people that work throughout this building, and for the many Vermonters that come to us to weigh in on the issues affecting their lives.
The rhetoric at the national level is unprecedented. It is dangerous. It threatens our ability to engage in the productive discussion and debate that is foundational to our work. And I see signs of it creeping into our beloved human-scaled, community-based democracy here in Vermont.
That disregard of civility and respect will NOT happen here on my watch. I expect you to hold me accountable to that standard as well.
This leads to my second ask. It’s one that each of us- myself included- will probably find challenging at some point over the next few months.
I’d like you to trust that every person you interact with here in this building is honoring Vermont’s past and caring about its future, honoring Vermont’s past and caring about its future.
In my time here, I cannot think of a single person whose entire purpose was to be angry and obstinate or to ruin Vermont through whatever your version of disaster looks like.
Every person you meet here is working to protect something to which they feel loyal or is trying change a situation to reduce harm or improve hope.
You may not agree with their goals or their methods, but if you start with the premise that they are attempting- as you are- to create an even better future for Vermont, it may lead to a more productive discussion of what is important to each of you, and a better understanding of how to get there together.
My last ask is hopefully a little more fun. Get to know a few more colleagues. Break bread with someone outside your committee or party, or age group, or county.
One of my favorite evenings of the session is an annual dinner at the home of colleagues- my friends- who are across both the aisle and the state.
Building relationships is critical to having difficult and productive conversations. Ask someone who thinks differently than you do, ‘Which worries for our future keep you up at night?’, and ‘What inspires you?’
This is a team sport, and it’s up to us to make our teams as inclusive as our state. We’ll do this work better if we understand each other.
Our different experiences, cultures, ideas, and backgrounds, weave stable communities and a healthier future for Vermont.
I look forward to continuing that work with each of you. “
Please reach out to us with your questions or concerns: Speaker Mitzi Johnson at 802-363-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org
and Rep. Lee Morgan at 802-318-0227 or email@example.com