Vermont State Employees Association talks with Sen. Vince Illuzzi about lobbying job; Gekas turns down position

The Vermont State Employees Association needs a new lobbyist and they’re hoping to tap Sen. Vince Illuzzi, a Republican who spent much of his career in the Legislature fighting for union rights.

Doug Gibson, the communications director for the union, says VSEA is still trying to fill the shoes of legislative affairs director Conor Casey, who left to take a job with the National Education Association in Connecticut in September. Casey is one of six VSEA employees who has left the union in recent months. Seven Days newspaper has reported that questions have been raised about the leadership style of the new executive director Mark Mitchell, who has taken a more aggressive approach to union issues.

VSEA offered the job to Cassandra Gekas, the Progressive/Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor, in the middle of her campaign. Gekas has since turned the union down, Gibson says.

Gibson said the union hopes Illuzzi, who spent 32 years in the Statehouse and understands the building and the issues, will take the job.

“We are talking to Vince,” Gibson said. “We’re at such a late date now and obviously the Gekas thing didn’t work out … she didn’t want the job.”

Gibson said the union needs to get a new lobbyist and quickly as the legislative session starts on Jan. 9. “There’s no one to backfill with the working knowledge right now,” Gibson said.

Illuzzi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Correction: We originally described Illuzzi as a former senator. He holds his office until the Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 9.

Follow Anne on Twitter @GallowayVTD

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