by Mickey Smith
Johnson/Eden Representative hopefuls (from left to right): Mark Woodward, Jo Anne Graves, Nat Kinney and Diana Osborn at a meeting to choose three names to send to the governor. Smith photo
The Johnson Democratic Committee met at the Johnson Municipal Building Friday evening, January 14, with four candidates seeking the opportunity to replace Johnson/Eden State Representative Floyd Nease, who resigned last week to take a new job. Eden's Democratic Committee was invited to the meeting, but no members attended.
Jo Anne Edwards, Nat Kinney, Diana Osborn and Mark Woodward threw their hats into the ring, and were each given a few minutes to introduce themselves and explain why they wanted to be the next representative for Johnson and Eden. Edwards, Kinney and Woodward's names were chosen by the committee.
Their names have been forwarded to the governor's office. Walter Reeve, chair of Johnson's Democratic Party, said he was told by Alex McLean of the governor's office, that they are hoping to conduct interviews either Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Reeve said he hopes there will be a quick turnaround, so Johnson is not without representation for long.
Jo Anne Edwards is an Access Services Librarian at Johnson State College. She explained to the board that her job involves helping people with research, often including the laws of Vermont – an area of keen interest to her.
She described health care as a subject she is very interested in and is looking forward to seeing how Governor Shumlin's singlepayer system progresses.
Edwards said she first became interested in the political process back in the ‘70s when she helped form a union for bus drivers in Storrs, CT. She said it was at that time she realized everything we do is political, as whenever a problem arises the key is to get it solved in a way to avoid issues.
Edwards said if she were selected to the post, she would retire so she could devote more time to the office and representing the community.
Nat Kinney is a Supply Chain Manager for Concept2. He said he has long had a passion for Vermont politics. He said one of his favorite things is how any Vermonter can walk into the State House and listen to committees take testimony or to the general assembly.
He also looked to health care as a key issue this upcoming season, noting one way Vermont can reduce the cost of health care is to become healthier.
Mark Woodward, served as Eden and Johnson's representative from 1996 to 2003 and currently serves on the board of directors for Copley Hospital and Health System.
Woodward described himself as the first Democrat in his family and said he has long been committed to pointing out the good things government does for people.
He said he was involved in the creation of Act 60 and 68 and is proud of the fact you can now throw a dart at a map of the state and find a good school district.
He has also served as vice chair of Community Health Systems of the Lamoille Valley and said he knows it is going to take another huge effort, like the one for changing school financing, to change health care.
Woodward views this term as a very good opportunity with Democratic control of the House, Senate and the Governor's office.
Diana Osborn formerly owned The Quilted Lily in Johnson. Through that experience she said she understands the struggles of small businesses in Vermont. She has been involved with the Johnson Works Group and was a founding board member of River Arts in Morristown.
Whoever is chosen to replace Nease is most likely to remain on the human services committee. Nease told the crowd in attendance there are some representatives who aren't excited with their committee selections and traditionally appointees have not been offered a choice of committee assignment. But, he noted, human services is typically a good committee for a new representative.