Former Rep. Kesha Ram, D-Burlington, and Rep. Dylan Giambatista, D-Essex Junction, both announced Tuesday they are planning to run for a seat in the six-member Chittenden Senate District.
Their announcements follow Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe’s announcement that he would run for lieutenant governor. Current Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman is running for governor, and made a formal announcement this week.
Ram, 33, who represented Burlington in the House from 2008 to 2016, announced her candidacy in a Tuesday afternoon press release. Ram ran for lieutenant governor in 2016 and finished third with 16.7% of the vote behind Zuckerman and former Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith.
In that primary, she became the first woman of color to receive double-digit votes in a statewide race in Vermont, according to the press release announcing her candidacy.
Since her campaign for lieutenant governor, Ram received a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been working as a social and environmental equity consultant around the state.
Ram told VTDigger Tuesday if elected, she would advocate for paid family leave, increasing the minimum wage, criminal justice reform and transportation changes needed to fight climate change.
“As we talk about transportation solutions that get us closer to participating in the global conversations about climate change, we need to make sure those are solutions that work for all Vermonters and free them from their vehicles,” she said.
Ram said that she had been a consensus-builder in the House and would aim to do the same in the Senate.
“It’s a body where you can, if you’re very careful about the issues you champion, then you are changing the entire state conversation, and you are doing it in collaboration with people across the state,” she said.
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Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George and Rep. Hal Colston, D-Winooski, have endorsed Ram, according to the press release.
Giambatista, who is serving his second term in the House and previously worked as chief of staff to Smith when Smith was speaker, also made his announcement Tuesday.
He noted that Chittenden County hasn’t voted in a senator from Essex Junction since the 1990s.
“In Essex Junction we haven’t had a senator for many, many years,” Giambatista said. “It has been a frequent topic of discussion that a seat at the table in the Senate would help us as we address some of the challenges before us and the opportunities that are to come.”
“I want to make sure that we are pursuing policies that allow folks to have success at any age. And to me that means excellent health care, it means child care opportunities for parents … it means excellent training and education programs.”
Louis Meyers, a doctor who campaigned for a Chittenden Senate seat in 2018 and lost, is also running again this year as a Democrat.
“I am the only physician in the state running for the state Senate, in a time when OneCare and our health care system are clearly failing,” Meyers said, referring to the state’s accountable care organization, which is tasked with overseeing Vermont’s health care reform.
Ashe’s run for lieutenant governor opens up one Chittenden District Senate seat. But there could be additional openings in the coming months.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Ingram will likely announce a run for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks, which would mean a second seat is up for grabs.
Correction: Rep. Dylan Giambatista’s tenure in the House was incorrect in an earlier version. He is serving a second term in the House. Also, Tim Ashe is Senate pro tem, not Senate majority leader.
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