On Nov. 8, Castleton will have the opportunity to elect its inaugural representative to advocate on behalf of the town in the Vermont State Legislature. Since the redistricting of 2020, Castleton is its own district (Rutland-3), with representatives who focus on the unique needs of the town.
The race to win the Castleton district is being led by Democratic candidate and Castleton University professor, Mary Droege, and Republican candidate, CU alum Jarrod Sammis.
Droege revealed her exciting and innovative plans, highlighting the unification of Castleton’s dual reality of university and town.
As a lifelong Democrat, Droege has a wealth of experience in all areas of local politics, beginning in the hallowed halls of the former Fair Haven High School Union Board.
Since 2008, Droege has been a member of faculty here at Castleton University; however, her history at Castleton began as a resident of the town.
“I’m very excited to represent Castleton in its entirety — the Castleton town, people who are retired, families with young children, young recently graduated adults and the college students,” Droege said.
In her time at Castleton University, Droege has gained such titles as part-time faculty member within the Natural Sciences Department, Greenhouse Manager, Eco-Explorations Camp Director and Bridge Committee member. Her experience within the Rutland County Democratic Committee has provided her with the knowledge and expertise to lead the Castleton district towards a healthier, vibrant and fortified future.
Regarding interest and advocacy in policy areas, Droege said there are two areas that she is focusing her campaign on — the first touches on one aspect of a dual image of Castleton.
“I want to be a strong advocate for this university, and work on student affordability, tuition affordability,” Droege said.
Equally as important is her secondary focus of environmentalism. Droege’s ideas center on a community-based reduction in energy consumption through optimising energy efficiency and decreasing overall usage. This twofold notion is reinforced by Droege’s advocacy for Vermont to adopt the “Bottle Bill.”
“(Right now), you get money for a used bottle or can, but (I want) to update it to include non-carbonated beverages because it only applies to carbonated beverages,” Droege said.
Though beaming with ideas and innovations to strengthen the Castleton community, Droege revealed her apprehension towards the often frustrating bureaucracy tied to legislative decisions. Vetoed by the Governor and failing an override by one vote, the “Clean Heat Bill” is particularly something she thinks deserves more attention.
“I can imagine that’s the most frustrating thing to go through as a legislature, to have worked on it for so long and not pass by one vote,” Droege said.
Those who work with and study under Droege admire her enthusiasm about such issues — the same passion that she brings to her work at CU.
Senior Adsel Sparrow enjoyed her experience taking Flora of Vermont with Droege and mentioned how “her positivity and passion is infectious.”
“The first thing I’ve noticed is (her) organization”, said Droege’s lab assistant, Petra Veljkovic. “We ended up giving each other tips on labs.”
The redistricting of Castleton empowers the students of Castleton University to have their voices heard more strongly in politics. Droege certainly understands this distribution of power and is eager to hear the voices of students both in local and state-wide politics.
“I think students need to recognize the power that they have and act on it, because young people don’t vote at the numbers that older people do, and you guys need to! You need to influence who gets elected, it has consequences,” Droege said.
To get involved in local politics, the general election is on Nov. 8, although you can vote up to 45 days earlier. Visit olvr.vermont.gov to register to vote.
“The first step is to register to vote,” Droege said.