Vermont should elect the next generation of strong female leadership. I believe one of the great lessons of 2020 is that political leadership matters. Like me, you may have spent the Trump era participating in marches on issues such as climate change, Black Lives Matter or the MeToo movement, and you’ve likely posted on social media many times. But those things are not enough — you also have to vote. And you have to convince others to vote, too.

While it’s true Vermont will surely vote against Trump in the presidential election, we are not immune from the need for a change in our politics. Vermont has elected only one female governor ever and we have sent zero women to Washington in Congress or the Senate — zero.

All over the world, from Finland to Germany, Taiwan to New Zealand, nations led by women have consistently been the most successful in fighting coronavirus. Now Vermont has the opportunity in 2020 to elect a woman to statewide office who is a rising star — a young, charismatic leader, brilliant human rights lawyer, and assistant attorney general. Molly Gray is running for lieutenant governor and I encourage you to learn more about her on her website at www.mollyforvermont.com.

Molly is exactly the leader we need in our current public health and social justice crisis. She grew up on a diversified farm in Newbury, and after graduating from UVM and Vermont Law School, Molly spent years leading teams in some of the most challenging environments on Earth, from Red Cross humanitarian missions in Haiti and the Congo, to human rights monitoring missions in Nigeria and Iraq. And she has national political experience, working in the Washington office of Rep. Peter Welch.

While I understand that lieutenant governor doesn’t have a lot of intrinsic political power, they have a platform, a voice and the ability to elevate issues. Molly's campaign platform is based around three things that matter greatly to me: 1) Making Vermont the best place to raise and support families, 2) revitalizing rural communities, and 3) taking care of the land and environment for future generations. And the office is also a pipeline for higher office - our current lieutenant governor is running for governor and our current governor is a former lieutenant governor.

I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership, in Montpelier and in Washington. For all of their excellent service to this state, our current representation will not be able to serve forever — Peter Welch is 73, Bernie Sanders is 78 and Patrick Leahy is 80. We need young political leaders who are experienced and prepared to step up and lead.

And we know younger leaders can be impactful. Patrick Leahy was 34 when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate, and Martin Luther King Jr. was also 34 when he led the march on Washington. Molly is part of the generation – my generation – that will have to deal with the greatest consequences of climate change.

Go to mvp.vermont.gov to register or to order an absentee ballot, to vote before the Vermont primary on Aug. 11. And in the absence of in-person campaign events, candidates have to get creative to get their message out in 2020. Please help them out by using email and social media to inform friends and family about Molly - and other candidates at all levels of government - and encourage others to vote, too.

Please vote for Molly Gray in the Vermont primary. It's time to elect the next generation of strong female leadership in Vermont.

Tom Rogers lives in Stowe.

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