Primary Source: Bethel-area Progressive won’t seek reelection in 2020

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2019 10:05:55 PM
Modified: 10/30/2019 10:13:12 PM

State Rep. Sandy Haas, the Bethel-area Progressive who has served in the Vermont House since 2005, says she won’t seek reelection in 2020.

But she is backing Bethel resident Kirk White, who plans to run as a Democrat, for the Windsor-Rutland district seat, which represents the towns of Bethel, Rochester, Stockbridge and Pittsfield.

“I’m in my eighth term, and we are a citizen legislature, and it’s appropriate to have a changing of the guard,” Haas, a 73-year-old Rochester resident, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’ve really enjoyed the job, and I continue to enjoy the job, but I think it’s time for new energy from our district, and I have a great candidate to run.”

Haas, who announced her decision to the Herald of Randolph, was the first Progressive elected to the Vermont Legislature from the Upper Valley.

She has long served on the House Committee on Human Services, where she has worked on such issues as advance directives, Vermont’s end-of-life (aka Death With Dignity) law and mandatory continuing education for physicians.

A Berkeley-educated lawyer who grew up in the San Francisco area and moved to Rochester in 1980, Haas also has served on the Justice Oversight Committee, working on community-based programs to keep people in the corrections system out of prison.

Asked whether she was concerned that such progressive issues as a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave haven’t yet been enacted in Montpelier, Haas said, “I will say I am frustrated by what I would call ‘austerity budgeting,’ because I believe we have been doing that for most of the time I’ve been there.”

State Sen. Dick McCormack, a Bethel Democrat who first took office 30 years ago, said Haas won what had been a solid Republican House seat and has worked well with Democrats, who repeatedly endorsed her candidacy. Haas won election both as a Progressive and as a Democrat, but she caucused with Progressives.

“She has a good, intelligent, humane stand on the issues,” McCormack said. “Sandy has won over a large number of people who probably would not call themselves Progressives because she’s there for people.”

Haas, who will still be in the thick of legislative business for the next year, said she is pleased White plans to run for the seat.

A 1980 Whitcomb High School graduate who went to the University of Vermont and later earned a master’s degree in counseling, the 57-year-old White was the president and founder of the Bethel Revitalization Initiative and is a past president of the Bethel Rotary Club and Bethel Business Association.

“I plan to run as a Democrat and seek the Progressive endorsement,” White, a licensed acupuncturist, said via email. “But as a native of the White River Valley, I feel like I can also fully understand the needs and views of all residents of Rochester, Pittsfield, Stockbridge and Bethel across political lines.”

Haas, who closed her law practice when she entered the House, said she has enjoyed her time in Montpelier.

“This has been the honor and the great job of my life, I have to say that,” she said.

NH polling

A new CNN 2020 NH Primary Poll this week from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., atop the Granite State among likely Democratic voters, with 21% support, followed closely by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 18%.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has slipped to 15% (from a high of 35% support in February 2018,) while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 10% and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Andrew Yang; and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, each received 5% support.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also slipped in the New Hampshire polling and is at 3% support in the survey.

Among Republicans, President Donald Trump continues to enjoy rock-solid support from likely voters there, with 86% support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had just 5%, and former U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh were at just 1% apiece.

The UNH Survey Center poll also held good news for two-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. It found that 59% of New Hampshire residents approve of his job performance, while 25% disapprove. That includes 68% of independents who think Sununu is doing well, the highest such mark since February 2018.

And 72% of respondents said they think the state is headed in the right direction. The poll did not compare Sununu with would-be Democratic challengers Dan Feltes or Andru Volinsky.

Volinsky, an executive councilor and attorney from Concord, was in Hanover on Monday for a forum put on by Upper Valley Democrats on “respect in the political arena.” About 75 people attended the forum, which included Volinsky, who supported Sanders in 2016, and Mike Vlacich, who was Hilary Clinton’s state campaign director in New Hampshire, according to UV Democrats co-chairwoman Ann Garland.

Briefly noted

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull> Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, the Norwich Democrat who is running for governor, will the be guest speaker Monday at the Springfield (Vt.) Town Democrats meeting at the HCRS building at 390 River St. in Springfield starting at 6:30 p.m.

John Klar, a Brookfield, Vt., farmer and former tax lawyer, said this week he will run as a Republican for Vermont governor. Klar, who is also the former pastor of First Congregational Church of Westfield, Vt., would be running from the right against Gov. Phil Scott if the incumbent Republican opts to seek a third term.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy