Roaf said the state also needs proper oversight of energy production. Wind power may not be best for a state that relies on its mountains to attract tourists, he said. "I’m for an environment with some planning and oversight," Roaf said. "I support wind power, but you’ve seen the problems that have occurred with where we’ve chosen to build wind power and what it’s done to destroy the environment. You don’t want to do that in Vermont because our mountains are so much a part of our tourism. People come to see the mountains, not the towers."
BENNINGTON – After more than three decades as an educator, Warren Roaf is looking to transition to being a legislator.
The outgoing principal of Mount Anthony Union Middle School has worked in that post for the past 12 years. Prior to that he taught social studies for 22 years. Now, Roaf, a Republican, is hoping to secure one of two seats in Bennington’s 2-1 House district. He must first defeat one of two Democratic incumbents seeking re-election – Reps. Timothy Corcoran II and Brian Campion.
“You really need a choice”
Roaf said he was motivated to run after hearing that the incumbents faced no challengers.
“I read it in the Banner, actually, that my opponents were unopposed. What I used to teach my students is that in a republic you really need a choice to have a real representative government. As no one else was coming forward I said, ‘I’m going to have the time, why not throw my hat into the ring and see what happens?’” Roaf said.
He said his interest in the position runs deeper than education issues. “Obviously I have an interest in education because I’ve been at it so long. But I think it’s more than that. I’ve always had an interest in government. I taught social studies for so long that you can’t help but be interested in government,” he said.
Find a way to get better education outcomes from the taxpayers’ money will be a major goal, Roaf said. He said his experience as principal brings years of experience fine-tuning budget and programs.
“We really need to work on a balance between taxes and the quality of education we have. In my 12 years as principal, I saw over half a million dollars in cuts to the middle school budget alone. But, we also hired plenty of good teachers, we had two new programs created, one in math and one in literacy, to help achievement increase,” he said. “So, on the one hand you’re cutting the budget but you’re also improving education. I want to bring that kind of thinking to Montpelier, that it’s not an either or decision. Sometimes you can be creative and you can do two different things that seem like they’re opposites.”
“I know how to run a budget. I’ve had to do that for the school, so I have a background in making those tough decisions,” he added. “I understand that things have to be cut and you have to make those tough choices.”
Roaf said the state also needs proper oversight of energy production. Wind power may not be best for a state that relies on its mountains to attract tourists, he said.
“I’m for an environment with some planning and oversight,” Roaf said. “I support wind power, but you’ve seen the problems that have occurred with where we’ve chosen to build wind power and what it’s done to destroy the environment. You don’t want to do that in Vermont because our mountains are so much a part of our tourism. People come to see the mountains, not the towers.”
Area lawmakers must also ensure that the welcome center now under construction in the Bennington Bypass interchange system works well. It is crucial to make sure visitors are directed into town, he said.
“We have to make the information center a priority. That’s the only way we’re going to make Bennington a destination town with the bypass,” he said.
The third segment of the bypass should also be completed, Roaf said. “I’d like to see if move forward, but with anything else, you have to see the whole picture. Right now you have to look at the whole state and see what the needs are,” he said.
The state is moving forward on developing plans for a statewide, single-payer health care system. But Roaf said he would prefer the state maintain a private-market-based system.
“I think we have a pretty good health care system right now. I think it’s one of the best in the world as far as quality. I know in some countries where they’ve changed and become more nationalized in their health care system there’s been tremendous delays in when you can get quality service, and in the quality of that service,” Roaf said. “I do believe in private competition. When the government gets involved in things somehow they’re not very good at competing.”
If elected, Roaf said he will bring a balanced approach to legislating. “I’m all about balance. I think as a principal you learn balance. That’s something that I want to bring to Montpelier – weigh this against that and find some happy medium,” he said.
Defeating an incumbent will be difficult, Roaf said. But he plans to talk to voters in the district and share his ideas. He has asked people to donate ideas to his campaign rather than money.
“Both of my opponents are really good men. I’m not running against them, I’m really running for the office,” Roaf said. “But, I do think I will be a choice, a clear choice, against both of them.”
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