Campaign Countdown: Welch faces challenge from political newcomer Berry

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s lone seat in Congress is on the ballot this year. Democrat Peter Welch has represented Vermont in Washington since 2007. He is being challenged by Republican Miriam Berry. Our Ike Bendavid talked to both candidates.

Running for reelection, Congressman Peter Welch says this year is important as ever.

“This is the most significant election in my lifetime,” Welch said. “We have the COVID and we have the economic collapse as a result of that.”

Welch has held Vermont’s at-large Congressional seat since 2007 and believes that he has been working for Vermonters since day one.

“To be good at any job I think it takes two things. One is a real energy to do the job and some experience to do the job. And I have both,” Welch said.

His Republican opponent is a newcomer to politics. Miriam Berry is currently a full-time nurse at Birchwood rehabilitation in Burlington.

“I felt a long-time calling to public service,” Berry said.

Berry says a stint in Washington would not be long term. If elected, she intends to bring an unheard voice to the table in Washington.

“I think that the founders had intended that Congress. Well, particularly the House be staffed by the ordinary, everyday citizen and I’m that. I’m not a career politician. When I finish my stint in the House, I’ll return back to being a nurse,” Berry said.

Welch says his reelection campaign points to topics like building an economy that works for the middle class.

“Child care is inaccessible. People absolutely need to have it to be able to work. Health care is too expensive. Kids are graduating from college with mountains of debt. All of these things are a result of an economy that’s not working like it had been in the past where if you worked hard, you could pay your bills, take a vacation, put something aside for retirement,” Welch said.

He says under the current administration, the nation’s democracy needs healing.

“It’s essential that we revitalize our democracy because that’s the key for us being able to tackle climate change, which is existential, economic inequality, which is in enormous problem, so healing our democracy, I think, is the major challenge that our country faces,” Welch said.

Berry says she is an issue politician who has some moderate views.

“I like to look at the individual issues and handle things with practicality. There are some things that-- I am pro-life and I am not ashamed of that. So definitely there is a group of Vermonters that want that. But I also see there are excesses and potential monopolies,” Berry said.

Berry says that things like the green new deal will have an immediate negative impact on Vermonters.

“When I work with moms who are trying to support their families and they have to drive and sometimes we drive beater cars. And putting arbitrary or benchmarks on things like emissions-- it’s a bad time right now because Vermonters are already hurting with COVID and trying to make a go of things,” Berry said.

Both candidates point to the difficulty of campaigning during a pandemic.

“We have been doing Zoom meetings,” Welch said.

“It’s been a lot of internet,” Berry said.

They also agree that to benefit Vermonters, the winner must be willing to work across the political aisle.

“It’s mutual respect. It’s civility. It’s disagreeing with people when you disagree but treating them with respect and, you know, lord knows we need more of that in D.C.,” Welch said.

“We need to reach beyond the partisan divisions as far as helping heal our nation. We clearly have division going on race-wise and financially I think there are great divides there,” Berry said.

It’s up to the voters to decide on Election Day this November.

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