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Tuesday November 7, 2006 Edition
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Chris Bray Plans Strong Finish In Campaign For Vermont House

Tuesday November 7, 2006

By Mike Cameron

  Chris Bray’s first attempt at statewide office has been a unique learning  experience.   

   Bray, a Democrat in running in the Addison 5 (Bridport, New Haven, Weybridge) race for the Vermont House of Representatives.  He will oppose among others, 4-term Republican incumbent Harvey Smith in Tuesday’s November 7th, General Election.

   Bray sums up his campaign strategy in a position statement quoting the  candidate as saying “As your representative, I will bring new energy and drive to serving our three towns. It’s time for a change!”

  Elaborating on that premise he explained to The Valley Voice that he has been able to organize a group of several volunteers that feels the same way he does about the direction of state government and who are willing to help him get elected.

     Bray began his quest for statewide public office by attending the Richard A. Snelling Center for Government. He credits the Snelling Center for giving him a solid  pro-active approach to governmental leadership.

    So far in his campaign for the Vermont House, Bray said he has visited 1,017-homes in his voting district and that in “19 out of 20  of those households, the Property Tax question is first on peoples minds.  

   “We have seen a double or triple digit increase in property taxes and little or no corresponding increase in wage growth over the same period of time,” he explained.

   Bray believes that he is a skilled and impathetic listener and that listening to the needs of the people who could become his constituents has been his top priority in the campaign. “People want to discuss finding a fairer funding formula for education, they need to be assured that they won’t have to move somewhere else that might be more affordable and leave 6 or 7 generations of family history behind them.”  On the government side; unfunded or underfunded mandates need to be challenged according to Bray.  “In No Child Left Behind for example, the Federal Government says ‘here’s a law that we believe strongly in but we don’t feel strongly enough about it to help states  fund it.’  States will have to pick up the entire cost.”

   “Education funding for a Vermont pupil in the public school system  is  currently about $10,000 dollars per pupil, per year.  When compared to what it costs to incarserate a criminal per year in Vermont, Bray points out the number is $40,000 dollars per year according to the Vermont Depatment of Corrections.”  The data is both startling and sobering .

   Bray stresses that “working collaboratively with others,” is the only way that real progress can take place at any level of government.

   He stresses that affordable health care for everyone is something that he supports and and has campaigned for.  

   Bray said that he has also spoken with  area farmers and would work hard to find innovative ways to achieve a fair price for their milk, including the feasability of a return to a concept like the once viable North East Dairy Compact. Bray believes that the Compact in its prime, was a stabilizing market force here in Vermont. He is also an advocate of creating new farms and new products through responsible agriculture.

   “There are opportunities for more niche markets in Vermont agriculture as well as strengtening our traditional dairy farms, from helping  farmers with their business planning to finding more income producing opportunities for them on their farms.”

   Bray also stressed that new business development, protection of our natural resources to ensure their long term viability, re-examining our energy requirements and helping to create locally-based alternative sources of energy are vital to the state’s future.

   He said that he would continue to listen and learn about agriculture. Bray also said that he has enjoyed serving as President of the Middlebury Area Land Trust, as an EMT with fire and rescue, a hospital volunteer, member of the school board technology committee, baseball and soccer coach and referee, and Elementary and Middlebury School reading enrichment program volunteer.

   Chris Bray says that as a family farmer and small business owner and  the founder and owner for 16-years of Common Ground, a small publishing company he understands many of the  day to day challenges that are unique to a variety of businesses both inside and outside of agriculture.He is also a Partner in the Equestry, an 82-acre horse farm, providing horse training and lessons. He and his family live in New Haven.


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