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State Sen. Brian Campion, another veteran lawmaker, won't seek reelection

Two men in masks walk past the granite columns of the statehouse
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public File
Democratic Sens. Brian Campion (left) and Bobby Starr, walk outside the Statehouse in January 2021.

State Sen. Brian Campion, who helms the chamber’s education committee, is not running for reelection.

The Bennington County Democrat announced his departure from the Legislature, where he has served for the last 14 years, in a press release Monday. He was first elected to the Vermont House in 2010, and the Senate in 2014.

“Serving in the legislature for the last 14 years has been the honor of my life,” Campion said in a statement. “I’m proud to have made a real difference for the people from Bennington County and look forward to continuing to be involved in my community.”

A sea change is underway in the Vermont Senate. In the last election cycle, 10 senators opted not to run for reelection. And this year, Campion is the fifth longtime senator to announce his departure from the 30-member body.

Democratic Sens. Jane Kitchel, Dick Mazza, Bobby Starr and Dick McCormack have all recently announced they will not run for reelection. Like Campion, Kitchel, Mazza and Starr were all committee chairs, and generally considered to inhabit the more moderate wing of the party.

“Being an effective legislator requires working well with all of your colleagues, no matter their party, and I'm proud of having a reputation for doing this,” Campion wrote.

Campion took over the Senate Committee on Education in 2021, and in this role often clashed with public education advocates, particularly on matters relating to the state's voucher system. He played a key role in the contentious confirmation process for now-interim Education Secretary Zoie Saunders — voting against most in his party to endorse her selection.

But he is also well known for his work on environmental issues. In a press release, Campion said he was particularly proud of his work on chemical contaminants, including addressing PFAs in Bennington's drinking water. The lawmaker is also the architect of Vermont's first-in-the-nation mandate to test every school for PCBs, another toxic chemical.

Sen. Phil Baruth, who leads the Senate as president pro tempore, in a statement highlighted Campion’s work on the environment.

“I happened to be with him when test results came back showing serious chemical contamination in Bennington's drinking water,” Baruth wrote. “Brian rushed out of the room — and he and his district-mate Dick Sears didn't slow down until the state of Vermont had helped connect affected well owners to the municipal water system. And mandated testing of private wells for contaminants. And pushed for the strictest lead standard for school drinking water in the nation — now Vermont law.”

Outside the Statehouse, Campion is the Director of Public Policy at the Elizabeth Coleman Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College and a trustee of the Bennington Museum.

Another well-known southern Vermont Democrat has already announced his intention to run for Campion’s seat. The Manchester Journal reported Monday that Rep. Seth Bongartz, of Manchester, had thrown his hat in the ring.

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Lola is Vermont Public's education and youth reporter, covering schools, child care, the child protection system and anything that matters to kids and families. She's previously reported in Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida (where she grew up) and Canada (where she went to college).
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