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Jin tries for House seat

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By JOHN FLOWERS

VERGENNES — Vergennes Mayor April Jin is hoping her third campaign proves to be the charm in her quest to win one of the two Vermont House seats representing the Addison-3 district.

Jin, in her second year as mayor of the Little City, first ran for the House in 1994, as a Democrat. She made a second unsuccessful bid in 2000, as a member of the Vermont Progressive Party. Undaunted and with more political experience under her belt, she is again throwing her hat into the ring this year, again under the Progressive Party banner.

“I feel the people of Addison County, and the people of this district in particular, need someone who will stand up and speak out,” Jin said during a recent telephone interview

Jin joins a growing field in the Addison-3 race, which has drawn more interest in wake of news that longtime incumbent Rep. Connie Houston, R-Ferrisburgh, will not seek re-election. Incumbent Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, has already announced he will seek another two-year term. Joining him in the race, thus far, are Jin; Vergennes Democrat Diane Lanpher; and Ferrisburgh Democrat Liz Markowski (see related story).

Along with serving as mayor, Jin currently presides as chairwoman of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center board, and is a member of the Vergennes Union High School board. She is a member of the executive committee of the Vergennes Partnership; is chair of the community relations board for Northlands Job Corps; is a member of the Vergennes American Legion Auxiliary; and is a member of the city’s board of civil authority.

Her civic resume also includes stints on the Vergennes City Council and as a municipal lister.

It’s been a long career in local and county politics during which Jin has often been in the limelight on some controversial issues.

She was vocal in her criticism of state and federal officials when Vergennes stopped receiving payments for hosting Northlands Job Corps. Jin, at one point, suggested the city consider cutting off Northlands from municipal services.

She also joined Vergennes aldermen last year in opposing a state plan to put a 10-bed mental health facility in the former Briarwood Nursing Home in the Little City. Part of that opposition was based on a mistrust of the state in its handling of previous agreements with Vergennes.

Jin has currently been urging the city council to come to a consensus on updated zoning regulations and vote them out.

“After five years, I want (the zoning regulations) out; let’s not hold the people hostage,” Jin said. “There comes a time to take action.

“I view myself as a ‘take-action person,’” she added.

If elected, Jin vowed to take action on issues ranging from farming to health care.

On farming, she promised to support legislation calling for milk processors to absorb the hauling and stop charges that are currently borne by dairy farmers.

“The price of milk keeps going down and the costs to farmers keep going up,” said Jin, a self-described fiscal conservative.

Increasing the availability of quality health care is also on Jin’s agenda. She called the Catamount Health plan approved by the 2006 Legislature “a small start,” and believes Vermont can do better.

“I believe we need some sort of universal health care,” Jin said, adding “I believe health care should be a right, not a privilege.”

The current health care crisis doesn’t only apply to humans, according to Jin. She noted that pet owners currently pay hundreds of dollars at clinics for immunizations and other basic services for their animals. Many Vermonters can’t afford to take their pets to clinics, which is resulting in many animals going without proper immunization, according to Jin.

“The average pet owner is being priced out of the market,” Jin said.

Aspiring college students are also being priced out of the market in Vermont, according to Jin. She recalled how her daughter in 1990 received a better financial benefits offer from the University of New Hampshire than at the University of Vermont.

“There’s something wrong with that,” Jin said.

She’s confident she’s earned additional support since her last House bid six years ago. Jin hopes that support will translate into a victory in November.

“People have seen that I try to use the common sense approach, and that I’m not afraid to tackle an issue,” Jin said.

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