Rep. Ben Jickling, I-Brookfield, is leaving his seat in the Vermont Legislature to take a job with a health care software company in Wisconsin.
Jickling said Friday he had not been actively seeking to leave his seat representing the towns of Randolph, Brookfield, Braintree, Roxbury and Granville when the opportunity came up to work with Epic Systems — the maker of software that many hospitals use for medical records.
“I was not looking aggressively for this opportunity, but it presented itself, and it was an intriguing opportunity and it was something I couldn’t pass up,” said Jickling, who served on the House Health Care Committee.
Jickling was first elected to the House in 2016 as a 22-year-old who challenged and beat seven-term House Democrat Patsy French.
“I’m a moderate — not a pleasant word in the current political environment — my voting record speaks for itself. I think I have represented the diverse views of my district,” Jickling said of his time in the Statehouse.
Jickling voted on both sides of the aisle at times. During the last legislative session, he voted in favor of the House bill expanding abortion protections and also supported legislation to raise the minimum wage, but opposed the paid family leave proposal.
Jickling’s new position will take him to Madison, Wisconsin, where the software company is based, but he said he will be traveling around the country.
Jickling’s seatmate, Rep. Jay Hooper, D-Randolph, said the decision to move on from the Vermont Legislature speaks to Jickling’s independence.
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“His decision to go take a job in another part of the country, I think it is indicative of Ben’s individualism,” Hooper said. “If any constituents are angry, I understand that, but I respect his reasoning and I admire it.”
With Jickling’s departure, there are currently only four other independents in the state Legislature. However, many expect that Gov. Phil Scott will appoint another independent to take Jickling’s seat.
When elected officials with party affiliations leave their seats, typically the party provides the governor with a number of possible replacements to serve out the rest of the term.
In June, Scott appointed Kristi Morris, a Democrat, to finish out the term of Rep. Robert Forguites, D-Springfield, who died earlier this year. Springfield Democrats had selected three possible candidates for the governor to review to fill Forguites’ seat.
Since Jickling is independent, there is not a nomination process through a party. However, Jickling anticipates the governor will choose an independent to serve the remainder of his term, rather than someone who is a Republican, a Democrat or a Progressive.
“I have spoken with the governor’s office about the process and about a number of people in my district who could fill my seat,” Jickling said. “I am quite confident the governor will choose an independent.”
Democratic leadership in the House voiced optimism that Scott will pick someone who is not closely aligned with his own party.
“I would say the hope is the governor picks someone who is a true independent, and that it is someone who we can educate on the issues and pitch on policy that we think can make Vermont a better place for everyone,” said Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, D-South Burlington.
Hooper said he was an “ideal” person to work with and to discuss what was best for their region.
“We’re the same age, we have generally the same understanding of the things that are important in politics today, and we work really well together,” Hooper said.
“We communicated really well. That is something I can’t imagine the next person will be able to match. But hopefully whoever succeeds him, I will communicate well with them too,” he said.
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