Hello City of Essex Junction! Karen and I are thrilled to be here with all of you on this historic day!
Thank you to Steve, Brad and Andrew for reminding us of all the people and all the work that got us here! A big round of applause for all of us!
When fellow legislators asked us about our charter change – we confidently said over and over “It’s the right path forward, with the right people, at the right time”. The Right Path was easy to explain because of all of you. All the Trustees and committee volunteers over the past 50 years who spent countless hours in meetings. All the residents who came out in all types of weather to attend meetings, to knock on doors, and to vote once more. All the T’s that were crossed and I’s dotted in every document, every petition, every agreement, and the final charter. And the 88% of voters who voted YES! Our story weaved a path to a conclusion that was hard to ignore - we tried almost every conceivable relationship. Our colleagues agreed - The right path forward was independence!
It was also the right time with the right people in the legislature. Yes, we were still busy with Covid, redistricting, pension reform and so much more but Karen and I firmly believed this was the right path. Our confidence, because of each of you, never wavered.
A little-known fact, over 1000 bills are introduced every session. Less than a couple hundred are given airtime. Committee chairs and house leaders drive the policy we will address in a given year. A charter change doesn’t always receive immediate airtime.
The right people were in leadership. We had a House Government Operations committee chair, in Sarah Copeland Hanzas, who understood Town/Village relationships, who believes in democracy and the power for decisions to be made at the ballot box. Our House leadership looked at the facts and agreed now was the time.
Your advocacy on social media and your letters to committee members and our senators ensured that legislators were paying attention to Essex Junction. And our colleagues, from all corners of the state, followed our news over the years and although they had a lot of questions, they were really happy for us. Before the final charter votes happened, we had colleagues referring to us as the representatives from the city of Essex Junction! Very cool to hear!
The right path forward, with the right people, at the right time.
As Karen said during a floor speech in support of our charter, “It truly takes a village to create a city”
We All Did It!
Before we close, I want to share just how special this day is for me. My father-in-law Carl has lived here all 86 years of his young life and served as a Trustee. My husband has lived here all 52 years of his young life - both have been active community members engaging in our efforts over the years – and both have opinions! We’ve had countless, and I mean countless, conversations about the Village’s future – they wanted independence long before I did – in Carl’s case much longer!
I’m grateful for their history lessons, their opinions, and their patience. I’m especially grateful to be one of the Essex Junction representatives who helped to bring their long-held desire for independence to reality. In fact, on the day of the House vote I was so choked up I never actually verbally voted!
Today We Celebrate!
But we leave you with this challenge
Continue coming to city meetings, join city committees, attend city events, talk to your neighbors, and help each other out.
Our work doesn’t end with the creation of an Independent City of Essex Junction.
Our work begins again tomorrow – to make the City of Essex Junction the best city to live in the State of Vermont!
Karen and Lori