Montpelier – On July 6, Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV) and Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) co-hosted a virtual candidate forum with the five candidates who are competing for three seats in this summer’s Democratic primary in the newly redrawn Washington County State Senate district. (This district now includes all of Washington County, plus the towns of Stowe, Braintree, and Orange.) 

Steven Pappas, the Publisher & Executive Editor of The Times Argus/Rutland Herald, moderated a lively and engaging conversation with Senate candidates Ann Cummings, Jared Duval, Jeremy Hansen, Andrew Perchlik, and Anne Watson. 

The forum was a valuable opportunity for voters to hear from all of the Democratic candidates on issues important to VPIRG and VCV and voters, including climate action, renewable energy, clean water, smart growth housing, agriculture and Vermont working lands, dismantling systemic racism and addressing environmental injustice, and the myriad threats to historically disenfranchised communities — both now, and to future generations —that pose such great risk to a just and resilient Vermont. 

Candidates discussed their commitments to addressing the climate crisis at the scale and pace the challenge requires both for Washington County and in concert with the rest of the state. In addition, they outlined ideas for housing strategies that would simultaneously protect our natural resources, while also expanding access and availability of affordable housing in Vermont’s downtowns and city centers, and the risks of NIMBY pushback (“not in my backyard”). 

Other topics covered were how Vermont can transition away from fossil fuels toward cost effective, renewable alternatives; the most pressing water-related issues we face and the actions needed to ensure access to clean water for all; the dangers of PFAS and other toxic chemicals; the policies candidates would support to significantly reduce the use of plastic products in the interest of human health and holding manufacturers responsible for the waste they produce; and the importance of implementing ranked choice voting and protecting our democracy.

Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters, commented, “This forum provides a valuable opportunity for voters to learn about the positions and priorities of the Washington County Democratic candidates for the state senate. Informed voters are essential to a healthy democracy, and we encourage folks to check it out to understand how their potential lawmakers will take on some of the major challenges of our time.”

A full recording of the event can be seen in full, here, and below. 

Candidate Bios: 

Ann Cummings is a former Montpelier mayor and retired real estate agent seeking her 13th two-year term in the Senate. 

Jared Duval is the Executive Director of the Energy Action Network, and has worked as economic development director for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Learn more at:

Jeremy Hansen is a Norwich University computer science professor, founder of the regional municipal organization CVFiber, and former vice-chair of the Berlin Selectboard. Learn more at:

Andrew Perchlik is running for a third term in the Senate; he is director of the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund. Learn more at:

Anne Watson is a Montpelier High School physics teacher and is currently serving in her second term as Mayor of Montpelier. Learn more at: