I was alarmingly reluctant to find out more about VT’s Democratic candidate for Governor Christine Hallquist, simply because I was uncomfortable with her appearance.
After she won the primary, I made a mental note to lean in, but my discomfort persisted. When I heard that she would be in town, I put the event on my calendar. I’ve learned that seeing a candidate in person is the best gauge of whether I would trust them with my vote (which held true for Bernie and Obama.)
When I heard that the Trump administration wanted to remove ‘gender’ from United Nations Human Rights documents, my attention sharpened.
Simultaneously someone who I cared about shared their unfolding transgender journey.
This was the last push I needed to realize my response-ability to be engaged more fully; because I know first-hand what it is to be marginalized, degraded and physically threatened.
On Thursday night, my husband Casey Deane and I participated in the Rally for Trans Justice | Brattleboro (for which I shyly made my very first rally signs, imagining what I might want to feel/see if I was trans: SAFETY. BELONGING. DIGNITY. ALLY.)
Students from Brattleboro Union High School appreciated seeing my husband there, as did the manager of the Latchis Hotel; while I delighted in seeing one of our favorite grocery store clerks from the Brattleboro Food Co-op with her family.
Trans people and allies from all walks joined together, including a 5th grader who identified as non-binary and a grandmother who came with her family to support her grandchild.
Where had all these people been hiding, I wondered. Why hadn’t I seen them before? Why hadn’t I wondered more about the fullness of their humanity?
This morning, my husband and I did something we rarely do. We skipped our Saturday morning yoga date with Scott Willis at Hits The Spot Yoga so that we could attend Coffee with Christine and Danica Roem along with our son who was home for the weekend from Vermont Tech.
When our son would typically be sleeping in, we headed out the door in the icy snow, just ahead of an accident, and we arrived at The Works Bakery & Cafe to 3 seats open in a row at the reserved table.
But then I realized that these seats were right beside Christine D Hallquist, which seemed inappropriate for me to claim, given everything, but also inappropriate not to claim, given everything, so I sat right down next to her and she took a pause from her bagel to introduce herself, and I, in turn, introduced her to my son and husband when they sat down with their bagels.
What brought me to this particular event (instead of the others around town where Hallquist was speaking) was the presence of Danica Roem – Virginia Delegate who I heard speak on a YouTube clip after her victory. If she could come from Virginia, I thought, I could come down from the mountain.
She was just as compelling this morning. Clear thinking. Enthusiastic. Matter of fact.
Hallquist was equally so. I began to write down some of what she said:
I AM BULLISH ABOUT VERMONT.
CLOSING RURAL SCHOOLS IS THE WORST THING TO DO.
GROWING VT’S RURAL COMMUNITIES WILL PUT PEOPLE BACK IN THOSE SCHOOLS.
WE’RE GONNA SOLVE CLIMATE CHANGE BECAUSE WE CAN.
I don’t need to “like” a candidate, but I do want to respect them.
Right away I liked Hallquist. Her can-do attitude. Her forward thinking. Her humor. Her authenticity. Her clear sense of being a learner. Of visiting the prison and the Brattleboro Retreat. The Canadian delegation on climate change. The former Governor of Colorado–who has joined 19 states together–around climate. Hallquist’s vision to do the same with health care. She also shared her focus on broadband internet across the state.
“I don’t accept NO as an answer,” she said. “I don’t make excuses. We CAN solve problems BECAUSE we are small.”
This she offered in defense of Vermont, after sharing how she transformed Vermont Electric Coop by bringing people together.
Before we left this morning’s gathering, we made new acquaintances and another modest second donation to the campaign (the first after the news about the UN documents.)
We left with a bumper sticker and a lawn sign and a commitment to do more to get the word out: This candidate is worthy of your vote.
“She’s been on a marathon,” Senator Becca Balint, Vermont Senate Majority leader said of Hallquist’s campaign, “And now’s she’s in a sprint,” encouraging us to encourage others to make donations to help bolster the campaign in these last weeks.
“Here’s what I’d like to say to my grandchildren one day,” said Hallquist in her closing:
2018 WAS THE YEAR WE MADE HISTORY.
ps. i love her logo.
pps. Both my husband and I–to our son’s constant dismay–mistakenly referred to Christine as “he” even as I wrote this piece.
“I don’t understand,” my son said, “Why do you keep doing it?!
“Our brains aren’t as flexible as yours,” I explained. “We’ll need more practice.”