Vermont women make history on election night
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont women in politics made history on election night.
The Green Mountain State made state history electing its first transgender female to the House of Representatives, electing the first woman of color to the Vermont Senate and electing a female lieutenant governor.
“For a lot of people when they learned that Vermont just elected its first woman to the state Senate, they scratched their head and said, ‘Really?’" said Kesha Ram, D-Chittenden County Senator-elect.
Ram is set to be the first woman of color in the state Senate.
“Somebody who has had a life experience as a woman of color will be having a seat at the table, we are no longer bringing up a folding chair," said Ram.
Ram was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 2008 as one of the nation’s youngest legislators. She says with her new elected position comes voice.
“Those perspectives change whose lived experience we focus on when we create policy," said Ram.
Policy ranging from demographic changes coming to Vermont to COVID-19 relief and recovery.
She is joined by a fellow groundbreaker.
“It’s really exciting to have this happen," said Taylor Small, who will represent Chittenden 6-7 as a Progressive.
In the Vermont House, Small will cover Winooski and a sliver of Burlington as the first openly transgender state legislator.
Something she sees as a step in the right direction.
“We are moving closer to a true democracy or a representative democracy within the state of Vermont,” said Small.
Small says she is seeing the power of woman leadership all over the country.
And at home in the Green Mountain State, she echoed Ram’s emphasis on offering a unique perspective for those so often overlooked.
“Making sure that the legislation and bills that are being created are focused on those that are going to be most impacted by that legislation," said Small.
And despite the overwhelming support both legislators say they received, they say hate still exists here in Vermont.
Both say they have witnessed it firsthand. Ram says with new positions comes new opportunity to work on a more inclusive state.
“We want a state where everyone can feel free to be who they are in a way that fully makes them a leader for the people who are unheard in Montpelier,” said Ram.
Small cited lessons learned from negative feedback for her Drag Queen Story hours in libraries as reason for the need to work for positions like state legislation.
She used Winooski’s diversity as an example of what Vermont can work toward and learn.
“That just shows exactly what we want to see across the state of Vermont is embracing our diversity and showing it can be showing up in the community and reading stories and prompting youth literacy and it can also mean getting into the Statehouse and showing that you can be a true leader at the same time," said Small.
Small says her drag career is not over, though she will have a lot more on her plate to prioritize.
But she still plans to do reading hours with kids.
She also plans on pushing health care reform, as well as all resident voting in Winooski, while Ram is making her first moves working on combating COVID-19.
Both say they are excited to get to work here in Vermont.
Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.