I AM RUNNING BECAUSE I HAVE A PLAN TO STOP THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN OUR COMMUNITY. I have a 21-Point Opioid Plan that I will put in place on my first day in office. This plan is just the beginning of many steps I will take to address the crisis head-on. In contrast, the current State’s Attorney still has no plan for a single course of action after being in office for nearly 12 years while the crisis exploded from zero to where it is today — all while she was in charge.
I AM RUNNING FOR STATE’S ATTORNEY because Bennington County needs a leader to end the opioid crisis, and that requires a State’s Attorney with a proven record as a front-line prosecutor with a history of success in important jury trials, appeals, handling crises and working with the legislature. I have that record. I was Chief Deputy for 8 and 1/2 years. I successfully argued a landmark criminal case before the U.S. Supreme Court for Bennington County, tried 25 jury trials, and handled 25 appeals before the Vermont Supreme Court. In contrast, the current State’s Attorney does not try jury trials, has never handled an appeal in the Vermont Supreme Court, played no role in the U.S. Supreme Court case I won, and, instead, admitted during the debate that she thinks her job is to be an “administrator.” We need a leader in this time of crisis, not an administrator.
THE CURRENT STATE’S ATTORNEY HAS DONE NOTHING TO STOP OPIOIDS IN 12 YEARS AND STILL PLANS TO DO NOTHING. The present State’s Attorney recently wrote that “we need to begin” thinking and planning to deal with the opioid crisis. That’s something that should have been done approximately 10 years ago when the first heroin-addicted baby was born in Bennington and evacuated to Albany Medical. I asked if we could prepare a press release to raise the alarm and commence community action. Nothing was done.
THE STATE’S ATTORNEY IGNORED THE ESCALATING CRISIS DURING HER 12 YEARS IN OFFICE. Opioid addicted babies became commonplace. Toddlers started overdosing on opioid pills left within their reach. Countless adults were abusing, becoming addicted, and often overdosing. There was still no plan for action from the State’s Attorney. In 2015, when the community pleaded for action and multiple groups organized a meeting, the present State’s Attorney did not attend and instead sent a staff member. Recently, in 2018, when the community leaders organized another important meeting to address the crisis, it was reported that the State’s Attorney yet again failed to attend. In contrast, I will not only attend, but will also organize regular meetings to be held in every town in the County, and I will lead our community out of this crisis.
I WILL MAKE SURE THAT BENNINGTON COUNTY GETS A DRUG COURT. A drug court in an essential step in dealing with the opioid crisis. It permits fast, targeted solutions for people who enter the criminal justice system and the court can administer punishment, treatment and rehabilitation options as needed. Other counties have drug courts. But the present State’s Attorney has inexplicably failed to support, let alone establish, a drug court in Bennington. I will make sure that Bennington County has a drug court.
I WILL WORK WITH THE LEGISLATURE TO STRENGTHEN THE DRUG LAWS TO SUPPORT BETTER TREATMENT OPTIONS AND TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS. I have a proven record of success in lobbying the legislature. In 2014, I lobbied the legislature to extend the time limits for prosecuting sexual crimes against children, and the Governor honored my work at the public bill-signing ceremony in Bennington. Read the Bennington Banner story here.
I WILL IMPROVE THE OFFICE IN EVERY REGARD. I will try cases, handle appeals, make policy, lobby the legislature and provide guidance and leadership for others in the office. Bennington County deserves that from its State’s Attorney.
I WILL STABILIZE THE OFFICE SO THE IMPORTANT WORK CAN BE DONE, AND DONE WELL. The State’s Attorney’s Office has 9 employees. During the current State’s Attorney’s 11-year tenure as an “adminisistrator,” 22 employees have left the office, including 11 lawyers. At least 10 employees were fired, including 6 lawyers. One of the nine employees leaves or is fired, on average, every six months. When an employee leaves or is fired, the state generally requires that the position be vacant for 90 days for “vacancy savings.” 22 employees x 90 days of vacancy savings per employee, equals five and one-half years of being shortstaffed when the state had budgeted for a full staff to serve Bennington County. Even today, on the current State’s Attorney website, she identifies three deputy lawyers when the office is budgeted for four. This is unacceptable and must change. The office handles over 1,500 cases a year and oversees many more investigations. The office is supposed to have a working State’s Attorney and four deputy State’s Attorneys. Instead, year after year, three or four deputy State’s Attorneys have been compelled to do the work budgeted for five lawyers.