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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

The Choreography Of Serving On Committees As A Citizen Legislator

Headshot of John Killacky.
Todd R. Lockwood, Courtesy
John Killacky serves as representative to the Vermont House from the City of South Burlington.

Leaving his multi-year post as executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington and moving into a new role as a citizen legislator serving the city of South Burlington had John Killacky feeling "humbled" — and a bit nervous.

"At first I was very humbled," Killacky said, "and thought, 'Oh, I'm walking away from my expertise and I'm going to be a citizen legislator — and what do I know about any of these issues?'"

As the second year of the two-year biennium begins in Montpelier, Killacky spoke to VPR about his legislative duties and how they overlap with his life as an artist.

"In my first year, I realized I knew a lot because I could call on the artist in myself ... You know, artists work with the materials they have" — Rep. John Killacky

Along with his fellow legislators who serve on the  General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, Killacky said that after months of discussion, they had to walk away last May without completing work on the proposed hourly minimum wage increase.

This session things are moving more quickly, according to Killacky: "We moved forward minimum wage and paid family leave that were quite stuck last year."

The minimum wage proposal is now in a Committee of Conference.

Killacky said his experience as an artist and working with other artists means he enters his legislative role knowing committees may only craft a compromise: "I realized it is the same thing when I'm editing a film."

As an artist, Killacky has completed a black-and-white film, titled, "">Elegies," with New York choreographer Eiko Otake and Vermont PBS production manager Brian Stevensen. The 9-minute film is part of the new exhibit, "Love Letters," now showing at Helen Day Art Center in Stowe.

VPR's Mary Engisch spoke to Killacky. Hear the full interview above.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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