Three vie to represent Springfield, Vt.

  • Alice Emmonds (Courtesy photograph)

  • Kristi Morris (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/1/2022 9:36:54 AM
Modified: 11/1/2022 9:36:35 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Two incumbent Democrats and a Republican are running for two seats that represent Springfield in the Vermont House.

Springfield Democrats Kristi Morris and Alice Emmons, who has served as a state representative since 1982, face a challenge from Republican Judy Stern, who is running for the first time. Stern’s husband, Keith, unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Phil Scott in the 2018 Republican primary.

The Democrats in the race support the reproductive rights amendment, Article 22, on Vermonters’ ballots this November and would like to see the state move toward alternative fuels. Stern, however, opposes the abortion amendment and does not think climate change is an issue. The three also have diverse ideas on school choice.

Morris, a 71-year-old Springfield Selectboard member, said, “I support Article 22 for protecting women’s rights to have control of their own bodies. This should be decided by all Vermonters for this constitutional change and not by 180 legislators. ... This article would preserve a women’s current choice.”

Emmons, 67, also expressed support for the article saying it involves “privacy issues, it’s medical issues, it’s people determining where you want to go in terms of your reproductive health and your reproductive life. ... (W)ho am I to tell someone to make a decision to go forward with a pregnancy. Who am I to tell people what to do with their reproductive life?”

Meanwhile, Stern, a 76-year-old former owner of Stern’s Produce in White River Junction, said the amendment isn’t necessary.

“We already have a law on the books ... that it is legal to get an abortion, so we actually don’t need this other one and it’s just allowing actually if the baby is born to kill it,” she said.

Abortion, by definition, terminates a pregnancy. But some opponents of Article 22 have pointed to the amendment’s lack of a limit on when in pregnancy abortion could be performed as a flaw.

The Democrats were less aligned on the issue of school choice.

Emmons said she believes that investing in public schools will create strong communities.

“The more exposure (to diversity), in a safe environment, in a school the stronger you will be as an adult and my fear is we keep chipping away and chipping away do we isolate, based on your economic situation, based on your religious situation, based on your ability to learn ... so you’re constantly isolating and grouping people separate from each other, and that’s my concern in terms of school choice,” she said. “We all need to be engaged in our public school system to make it stronger.”

But Morris said he would consider favoring school choice, though he has reservations.

“I could support school choice,” he said. “I am also concerned for our public educational institutions and the funding mechanisms to operate them and the burden placed on taxpayers. Current funding models would not support a mass exodus of students from one school to another, leaving one with a low number of students.”

Stern said she supports school choice.

“If there’s issues with the school I think (parents) should be able to pull them out and send them somewhere else,” she said. “I think some of these people can educate our children cheaper than our schools.”

The candidates also differed in how they would approach high energy costs. Both Emmons and Morris said they would like to see investments in fossil fuel alternatives, while Stern said she doesn’t think that climate change is concerning. Morris points to home weatherization as part of a solution,

“I would support funding incentives for homeowners to weatherize their homes to make them more efficient, thereby reducing fossil fuel consumption,” Morris said. “Alternative heating sources such as solar and cold weather heat pumps as well as electric vehicles should also be incentivized.”

Emmons said in the short term she supports continuing existing programs that help low-income people pay their home heating bills.

“We need to make sure people are warm through the winter,” she said.

But in the long term, she said new infrastructure needs to be put into place to support greener alternatives to fossil fuels.

“We have to make sure our grid can handle the new demand on it,” she said. “We have to make sure we have storage batteries in place to take the pressure off the grid, we also have to invest in solar and wind and alternative energy sources.”

In contrast, Stern believes inflation is out of the Legislature’s hands.

“There’s not much they can do for the energy costs because that’s a nationwide thing, unfortunately,” she said. She also said she would like to see an expansion of domestic drilling and thinks “it’s unfortunate that pipelines have been shut down.”

Stern is not in favor of green energy alternatives, nor does she see changing and more extreme weather patterns as related to human-caused climate change, as scientists have said they are.

“I don’t really buy into (climate change) because the climate has changed since the beginning, from the ice age on down,” Stern said. “And even though we’ve had a hot summer, we get cold winters so I think that offsets each other and this idea of going to electric cars if they actually look into how these lithium batteries are made I don’t think they’d jump on the bandwagon.”

Polls will be open on Nov. 8, from 8 a.m to 7 p.m. at Riverside Middle School, 13 Fairground Road.

Laura Koes can be reached at

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