Super Senior: Bill Keogh

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 1:26 PM EST
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Bill Keogh is practicing his putting at his long time home in the South End of Burlington. "My golf score doesn't keep me awake at night," he said.

If there is a golf analogy to Keogh's life, you won't find it here. "Keep your head down and it will go in," he said.

Because he's been raising his head and hand in both the Vermont Legislature and the Burlington City Council. But now that he's no longer running for either office he has another way to express his thoughts. "Every month I write a column for the newspaper," Keogh said.

He's opining about a new roundabout that is scheduled to start construction soon just up the street that he calls "the Majestic Squeeze."

The 89-year-old says the Majestic Car Rental at the foot of the project will be adversely affected with all the construction and traffic delays.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You never had a difficulty with your opinion.

Bill Keogh: No, not at all.

The Burlington native got into politics relatively late. In his 60s, after raising five kids with his wife Mary Grace, the former lobbyist ran as a Blue Dog Democrat -- fiscally conservative but socially liberal. He was on the city council for 16 years.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you miss it?

Bill Keogh: yeah, I do.

But Keogh's still on the Burlington International Airport Commission, a somewhat "under the radar" group that roared to life with the controversial F-35 fighter jet. He acknowledges the increased sound of the planes. "We have to put up with some of this, but the economic impact is just tremendous," he said.

From golf to baseball metaphors, the former umpire says there are similarities between calling a game and a political decision -- both can be hardball. "Same thing in politics. You make a call on a certain issue or negative or positive and people go after you and you have to have a thick skin," Keogh said.

He got his skin pinched with a poster when he was back on the council reading "Chairman Keogh, present and accounted for."

The image made by a local bar owner appears to show Keogh as Chinese communist Chairman Mao. It came after the councilor took on the owners who he says created safety hazards with over-capacity drinking holes.

Keogh also has a bit of advice for the current politically polarized times we're in. He says put your opinions away at the holiday table.

Bill Keogh: It's amazing how divisive the whole issue is among families.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Is it hard for you not to talk politics?

Bill Keogh: No, it isn't.

And he has advice for future lawmakers, too. "The first year in the Legislature, keep your mouth shut. I tell people on the council, 'Keep your mouth shut. Listen.' You find out who the power is, where the power is, who doesn't," Keogh

And perhaps there is a golf analogy. "Billy, keep your head down. There we go," he says, taking another swing with his putter.

A pragmatic politician chipping away at political discourse.