The Issues

I will support Vermont workers and fight for better wages and benefits.

I am committed to a well-educated workforce, livable wages, and childcare and eldercare options that work for families and employers. I support the creation of more employment opportunities, here, and throughout the state.  To make employment opportunities successful, we need to ensure that housing, transportation, health care, and education are stable, accessible, and affordable. Franklin County and Alburgh can set the standard for an economy that works for everyone.

Workforce development is key.

I think we need to continue to support student loan forgiveness, and work to ensure that Vermont incentivizes key professionals' education here in VT, and their commitment to work here. I think that personalized learning plans that help students consider more career possibilities that match their interests and skills and meet gaps in the trades, many of which are essential and pay excellent wages, need to be better utilized. I think we need to do all we can to promote VT as a great place to live and work, recruiting new individuals and their families to join us here in the Brave Little State. We clearly need to diversify, with so many of us aging and retiring, but I would also submit that older Vermonters and people with disabilities are a very underutilized resource...

I will stand strong for affordable, high quality education from Pre-K to post-secondary.

As a parent, grandparent, and woman with Masters degree in Educational Leadership, I am committed to high quality, affordable, accessible education, from the earliest years of learning to late in life opportunities that keep us engaged and sharp as the elders in our communities. We have learned a lot in the last few years about what is possible in education, things that we didn't necessarily choose, but rose to work around in the midst of the Covid pandemic. The world is changing, and education is needing to meet all kinds of new challenges! I want to be a voice for students and families, educators and supporting staff, and see that schools, early learning, and post secondary options for students continue to be creative in what they offer and how, and that they are sustainably supported here in Vermont. I will support efforts to ensure more equitable and inclusive learning environments and curricula development esp. for students with disabilities and students who are BIPOC. I believe we should take a deeper look at how we are funding education, as well, so that we can reinforce our system and achieve the best outcomes possible for our students

Vermonters need affordable, accessible healthcare — including mental health.

Having recently retired from Vermont Family Network, a statewide organization that provided family to family support, information, and connection as the state's federally designated Family to Family Health Information Center, I have had up close and personal experiences with all aspects of our healthcare system. I worked with local and state partners to help families of children with special health needs or disabilities figure out how to access the healthcare they needed. Over the last few years, caring for my dad, especially during pandemic isolation, we came to see the advantages of his great insurance as a military retiree, and the gaps in a system of care that cannot keep up with patients' needs. There are real barriers to care, from insurance and prescription issues and the real cost of medical care, to locating and getting a timely appointment with a provider, especially if they are a specialist. Elders and people with disabilities are especially challenged to find affordable, accessible healthcare that is responsive to their needs, and these populations are growing.

Though Vermont attempted to create more holistic care by weaving the state's Departments of Health and Mental Health into one as part of the Agency of Human Services restructuring in 2004, we have since returned to silos of services and care, treating physical and mental health as separately as ever. This last year, in Emergency Departments at UVMMC and NMC, we have seen children and adolescents experiencing mental health crises stranded for days because there were no appropriate hospital or residential care beds available, and community mental health providers lacked capacity to meet their needs so that these young people could be home with their families.

I am very concerned about Vermont's health and mental health resources. Our healthcare system was stretched before the pandemic, and it's even more stressed now. I want to work to see a more prevention-focused, integrated system that can better meet people's needs before they are in a position where they need hospitalization and/or residential care. As your Senator, I will be committed to working on bills that promote patient and family-centered care, ensure that Vermont is attracting and keeping health and mental health providers, creating greater capacity at the community level to meet surging needs for mental health supports, and addressing universal access to primary care.

I'll do everything I can to increase safe, affordable housing options for all.

Throughout my career, the need for safe, truly affordable housing has been clear. I am glad that there has been investment in restoring existing structures in communities like Enosburg, Richford, and St. Albans, and that the Legislature approved significant funding for the creation of more housing in the 2021-2022 session. I will work to see that more buildings can be refurbished for rent or sale, and I will support the construction of more safe, affordable, accessible housing, especially within walking/biking/public transportation distances of resources like grocery stores, medical care, recreation, etc. I will solicit input from housing stakeholder and advocacy groups to act upon their expertise as to what works, and see that we fund both short term solutions to immediate housing needs and longer range plans. We need to accommodate individuals and families who are here already, and we need to attract new people to Vermont to enhance our workforce and diversify our populations, especially as we age. Housing is a top priority.

High-quality childcare and eldercare options are critical.

I support the goals of Let's Grow Kids, Building Bright Futures, and the VT Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance to assure high quality, affordable, accessible childcare, and believe that we need to better appreciate and compensate child care providers. I believe we need to do more to support elder care providers, as well. Family members are often in the position to have to choose between employment and caregiving, when reliable options are unavailable. I will work hard to establish paid family and medical leave, knowing personally how important it is to have flexibility and compensation you can rely on when a family member needs you to be there for them. Having this benefit might also release some of the pressure on parents and address the gaps in child care, especially in infant care, which is the most expensive to provide. We should incentivize providers to enter the caregiver fields by supporting their educational expenses, and reward high quality home and center providers financially. I think there are creative ways to train, connect, and compensate essential caregivers, whether they are child care, respite, foster care, or elder care providers, and treat them as the professionals we need them to be.

We must preserve our working lands and clean waterways.

Franklin County has a long history of agricultural success and innovation. We know that our working lands are an important resource, and that they are inextricably linked with our waterways. If we don’t come together around effective clean-up efforts of our lakes, rivers, and streams, and sustainable ways to fund them, we will lose places like Lake Carmi and St. Albans Bay to pollution, blue-green algae, and milfoil. Our families, and those we are trying to attract to the state, depend upon clean water and air and healthy farmlands. As a Senator from Franklin, I will work towards solid and innovative plans to preserve and protect our environment while increasing and diversifying our workforce and overall population.

I'm Pam McCarthy, and I'm running for Vermont State Senate. Will you join my team?

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