Editorial: Thanks, Jim

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Photo by Joseph Gresser, taken at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, September 9, 2006.
Photo by Joseph Gresser, taken at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, September 9, 2006.

copyright the Chronicle August 20, 2014

Jim Jeffords died Tuesday at age 80 after a lifetime of public service. He was a Republican until the party moved away from his core Vermont values. In 2001 he became an Independent. His decision shifted the power in the U.S. Senate to Democrats when much of the Republican Party had veered off into extremism.

Vermonters who appreciated his decision put bumper stickers on their cars: “Thanks, Jim.”

But really we have a lot more than that one huge decision to thank Jim Jeffords for. He served the town of Shrewsbury as grand juror, town agent and zoning administrator before serving Vermont in the Legislature. Later he was Vermont’s attorney general before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served for seven terms. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988.

He was a thorough and effective advocate for dairy farmers, crafting compromises in farm bills that helped keep Vermont dairy farms operating during incredibly difficult times.

He was also an advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment for women and Special Education services and federal funding for those services. It was a mission of his to keep the federal government paying for these critical programs as fully as possible so the burden would not land on states and towns.

He was a champion of the environment and fought to preserve Civil War battlefields, including one called Cedar Creek in Virginia where Vermonters played an important role.

Vermont will dearly miss Jim Jeffords. He set a high standard as a Vermont statesman. — B.M.D.

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