I am familiar with what it is to work hard for little. I am surely not a career politician. My father is a United States Marine, and a workaholic. I worked from an early age on construction sites as a grunt. By the age of twelve I earned a dollar an hour, stacking wood, mowing lawns, roofing, digging, leaf-raking. I worked for my Uncle Don Jacques stocking shelves in the Chelsea Country Store.
My dad taught me how to paint houses (interior and exterior) beginning at age 14. At 16, I worked the summer in a factory inspecting airplane parts -- 7 AM to 3:30 PM, $3.00 per hour. During the school year, I worked as a bagger and shelf stocker (Stop & Shop), and I washed dishes (Bonanza).
At 17 I graduated High School and worked for the summer in Ogunquit, ME as a pantry chef, dishwasher and busboy. I spent my first year of college at Rutgers University, and worked the next summer as an assistant cook in the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. That fall I worked as a pizza cook in West Yellowstone, Montana, then hitch-hiked home to Connecticut, working on the way. The next summer I worked for board as a camp counselor in Casco, ME.
I returned to college at the University of Connecticut, worked the summer at a factory hand-buffing machine parts, and the next year I spent my Junior Year Abroad in England at the University of Essex. After college I worked the summer as a laborer on a foundation crew and tending masons. In 1986 I entered the University of Connecticut School of Law. I worked twenty to thirty hours a week as a researcher and title searcher while attending law school full-time.
After Law School I worked for three years as a tax attorney with Coopers & Lybrand, including one year in their Birmingham, U.K. office. In 1991 I opened a general law practice in Storrs, Connecticut where I practiced criminal, family, personal injury, and commercial litigation. In 1998 I became very ill, and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and fibromyalgia syndrome.
We purchased a farm in Barton Vermont, because regular physical activity helped my mobility and pain levels. I learned to make hay, raise various livestock, and slaughter and sell meats. We then constructed a milking parlor and cheesehouse, fully certified.
In 2004 we sold the Barton farm and rented a former dairy farm in Irasburg, where we raised grass-fed beef and sheep for the next twelve years. I have performed some pro bono legal work over that time, and served as pastor for more than three years in Westfield, Vermont, where we conducted services to raise money for a Ugandan pastor and his community. I have partially completed my Masters of Divinity degree at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary.
Beginning in 2007 I designed and constructed our off-grid house on family land in Brookfield, using timbers sawn on site, and a foundation of granite from Barre quarries. We resided there for the last two years, until we rented a house near the road so i could enter this political race.
I have been writing a weekly column for The Newport Daily Express since March 2016, and I have written for many other publications, including Mother Earth News, the Federalist, American Thinker, and Liberty Nation.
In 2017 I became a certified Vermont recovery coach. I often write about opioids and substance abuse recovery.
My purpose in recounting this history in such detail is to demonstrate that my work experience is varied and extensive. I am not lazy -- I get things done. But also, I am not a white-collar attorney with millions of dollars, running for office to plump up my resume. I am a laborer who has always been of simple means, and who enjoys productive and creative effort like that which is required now for Vermont and Vermonters. I am a farmer with a law degree; not an attorney who dabbles in farming.
I am honored to have worked beside masons and roofers, painters and factory workers, waitresses, dairymen and loggers. I have emerged from my off-grid home to sincerely try to improve Vermont for Vermonters, and I offer my work experience and writing skills to do so. In my writing and speaking, I do not lie for votes -- I shock by being frank.
But a shock is what Vermont needs. Our economy is foundering, our small towns struggling, our colleges and rural schools closing, our farms dwindling, our workers leaving. But our pension debts are skyrocketing unsustainably; opioids are spreading and destroying many more lives than just the users.
Please be shocked into becoming informed about these and other issues that confront us. We must not leave these problems on the shoulders of our children. You must vote, support political campaigns, run for office, or persuade others to run for office. I can do nothing without Vermonters beside me to carry forth the policy plans I am proposing. We must win enough seats in both Vermont houses to actually DO THIS, or my words are useless. A Governor does not govern alone.
Join us. If we work hard and build consensus while making gains in the areas promised, we can earn the trust of all Vermonters for continued leadership. Vermonters have had enough division -- let us come together and demonstrate what hard, frugal workers we are!