• French joins the Senate
     | January 19,2013

    Former Rep. Eldred French, D- Shrewsbury, speaks during debate in Montpelier in 2009. Gov. Peter Shumlin on Friday appointed French to a seat in the state Senate from Rutland County.

    RUTLAND — Eldred French wasn’t out of the Legislature for long.

    Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Friday he had appointed the former Shrewsbury representative, a Democrat, to take the Rutland County Senate seat vacated by fellow Democrat William Carris.

    Carris resigned late last year for health reasons. French will officially take office Tuesday, and he said he has been assigned to the Senate’s Government Operations and Agriculture committees.

    “I’m thrilled about both of them,” he said. “There will be some campaign finance and some interesting things coming through Gov Ops and, for Rutland County, Ag is very exciting.”

    French was in Montpelier on Friday for an iPad training session with the Government Operations Committee.

    “The Gov Ops Committee is going all-iPad and I don’t want to be the dumb kid on the first day of school,” he said. “I’m thrilled. I’m happy. It’s a job I love.”

    French lost his House seat after last year’s redistricting put him in a race for re-election against Rep. Dennis Devereux, R-Mount Holly. French said he was ready to make the transition from House to Senate.

    “I’m a big-picture person in many ways,” he said. “Serving the broader interests of the county rather than the narrow ones of a district appeals to me. ... Whether you’re a senator or you’re a representative, the important thing is listening and working hard. When you put those two things together, good things happen.”

    French said he already has good relationships with his two fellow Rutland County senators, Republicans Kevin Mullin and Margaret Flory. Mullin and Flory echoed the sentiment.

    “He served on the Judiciary Committee in the House at the same time I served on the Judiciary Committee in the Senate,” Mullin said. “I think it’s a good selection. The governor made a good pick.”

    Flory said she served alongside French on the Judiciary Committee during her time in the House.

    “Eldred is a good guy,” she said. “He’s a hard worker, a bright man, listens. I’m not always going to agree with him, but we’ll always listen to each other.”

    The other two nominees sent to the governor by the Rutland County Democrats were former representative and senator Cheryl Hooker of Rutland and onetime Senate candidate Robert Baird of Chittenden. Each said they wished French well and that it was too early for them to contemplate a Senate run in 2014.

    Meanwhile, French said he plans to check in with community leaders in each town of the county.

    “I’m very thankful the governor chose to appoint me,” he said. “I will not disappoint him. I will be a strong, energetic voice from Rutland County from day one. I’ve never been so ready for a job in my life.”

    @Tagline:gordon.dritschilo @rutlandherald.com

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