Eldred French replaces Bill Carris in Senate

Gov. Peter Shumlin has appointed Eldred French, a former House representative, to replace Bill Carris in the state Senate. French was selected from among two other Rutland County candidates.

A Democrat, French first won election to the House in 2008, serving for four years until he lost to Republican candidate Dennis Devereux in the 2012 election.

French was pitted against Devereux, another incumbent, as a result of political redistricting last year.

Carris, a longtime Rutland Democrat, retired last year after a successful re-election, for health reasons.

French has owned and operated the Acorn Tree Service for nearly 40 years, and is an arborist who maintains and studies trees.

French is “thrilled” about his new job and expects to start at the Statehouse early next week. He’ll serve on the Senate Agriculture and Government Operations committees. Previously, he served on the House Judiciary Committee.

He expects that as a senator, he’ll shoulder more legislative work in the same amount of time, given that Senate members serve on two committees instead of one.

“You’re going to have to be more active on different fronts,” he said. “I also think it’s a big difference, having a big picture in mind all the time, representing the broader interest of an entire county, instead of the narrower ones of a district.”

French doesn’t have a specific agenda or policy ideas yet for his two committees, but noted: “Rutland County has been making some great strides on the agricultural front for years, which accelerated particularly in the last decade.”

“I think agriculture can be a great economic driver for the county, and I’m looking forward to facilitating that,” he said.

Bill Carris’ son, Tracy Carris, had sought his father’s former seat, but lost out when other Rutland County Democrats voted instead to send French, Cheryl Hooker and Bob Baird on to the governor for a final decision.

Hooker is a former senator and representative, while Baird ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2010.

In a statement, Shumlin described French as “hardworking, energetic and well respected in the House.”

Nat Rudarakanchana

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