Cyrus Patten: Vermont is ready for something new

Editor’s note: This commentry is by Cyrus Patten, the first executive director of Campaign for Vermont. Previously he worked in social services, most recently at the HowardCenter and previously at Spectrum Youth & Family Services and Northeastern Family Institute. He lives in New Haven.

Last month I joined as executive director an organization I believe is positioned to affect measurable, positive change. Since its founding just a two years ago, Campaign for Vermont has grown from an idea into a productive, effective organization.

I’m appreciative of the incredible work that has been done thus far by Bruce Lisman, Tom Pelham and Mary Alice Mckenzie. They have achieved some major milestones; not the least of which was attracting a diverse group of individuals that span geographic, political and ideological realms.

In its brief history, Campaign for Vermont has affected change in a real way. There is now a vibrant and persistent discussion statewide around the need for ethics standards in Montpelier. The Legislature is acting on education system reform. And the depth of our partner network continues to grow daily.

I genuinely believe Campaign for Vermont serves a much needed role in this state. Party politics and business-as-usual continue to result in tired and benign solutions. We need, now more than ever, creativity and innovation.

Vermont is a place where individuals matter; and each has the potential to impact the way our government works on our behalf. Because of this direct line to our representatives, there is no better place than Vermont to affect change. I am excited for where Vermont can go next. First, I need to resolve something.

What harm could come from some measured and thoughtful feedback? Do Vermonters not hold honesty and humility in high regard?


Our critics have claimed Campaign for Vermont is a conservative campaign. They have attempted to undercut the momentum by attacking the motives of our founder. Yet in a state government thoroughly dominated by one party, nearly any constructive criticism will be met by partisan resistance. I know enough of our legislators to say they are by and large a respectable and honest group of people.

Assuming my impression is accurate, what harm could come from some measured and thoughtful feedback? Do Vermonters not hold honesty and humility in high regard?

In an attempt to put this matter to bed, the following is my commitment, on behalf of Campaign for Vermont.

• We will put progress before partisanship. Always.

• We will be solution focused.

• We will work with our representatives to form productive relationships.

• We will connect Vermonters to their government, offering realistic solutions that come from real people.

• We will mercilessly hold our representatives accountable.

• We will apply our values equally across political orientations.

If you agree that Vermont can do better, that we could all benefit from pragmatic, non-partisan dialogue, join us.

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