Buskey to run for Vermont House seat
VERGENNES — An Addison Republican with an extensive history of public service and what he calls a moderate approach to politics has joined the race to represent the Addison-3 district in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Barring other entrants into the August primaries, Timothy Buskey, 73, will challenge incumbent Vergennes Democrats Diane Lanpher and Matt Birong for the two House seats representing Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
Buskey’s résumé includes lengthy terms as chairman of both the Addison and Middlebury selectboards.
He has also served on the Addison planning commission and is now an Addison auditor and town meeting moderator. In Middlebury he also worked on the zoning board, and his nonprofit board service over the years includes the Addison County Home Health and Hospice and Addison County Chamber of Commerce.
Buskey’s career includes working at Middlebury’s WFAD-AM radio station from 1968 to 1981 and ownership of that business for several of those years, and between 1981 and 2004 he worked in administrative and leadership positions in the Vermont, American and New York farm bureaus.
There, as well as lobbying for laws and policies chosen in a democratic process by each state’s membership, Buskey also helped publish Vermont Fences magazine for a decade for the Vermont Farm Bureau, and administered educational foundations and business operations.
From 2004 to 2019 he and his wife of 53 years, Barbara, also owned and operated Vergennes Residential Care, Inc., a small assisted-living home.
The sale of that business in 2019 prompted Buskey to consider pursuing a long-held political goal of a Vermont House seat — he said he considered it seriously two years ago.
“I’ve been talking about it for years. I would have run last time, but at that point we still owned the business,” he said.
Buskey said his years of serving the Middlebury and Addison communities have helped prepare him for the Legislature.
“I got education and experience in each of those areas, and it was very worthwhile. I was interested the whole time, and I was very engaged. I thought it would be not only a way of helping my community and the people around me, but also serving myself well, too, getting new education and new ideas and diverse thought processes,” he said.
Buskey said he was just as comfortable working in government in Middlebury, one of the county’s liberal bastions, as he has been in the more conservative community of Addison.
“I don’t like labels, anyway. I can’t call myself anything, hardly. The measure of how you fit into a political party is very difficult. But I think I can offer a very diverse viewpoint to the one-sided legislative process we have now,” he said.
Certainly, Buskey offers a fiscally conservative point of view.
“I watch the Legislature continue state spending in the face of the huge deficits we have while we wait around and formulate where the money is going to come from. That’s not a policy I’m interested in. I think we need to focus on spending cuts over tax increases,” he said. “This is not a time to tax us into prosperity.
“That’s where the Republican label, if you want to put one on me, comes from,” he added.
Buskey said his top priority would be boosting Vermont’s fiscal health.
“I want to get the Vermont economy moving again,” Buskey said. “We already know the effect of COVID-19 on the struggling national economy, but we need to focus on the Vermont economy because it was struggling even before the pandemic.”
In particular, Buskey said he would like to back small businesses, like the one his family ran for 15 years.
“Obviously I was in small business for 15 years at Vergennes Residential. We don’t want to keep taxing them with higher taxes and higher fees,” he said. “And we need to be careful with regulation after regulation after regulation.”
As an example of excessive regulation, he offered what he said were the state’s high workers’ compensation costs, which he said stood at $52,000 in his first year of ownership of Vergennes Residential Care.
On the other hand, Buskey said he reduced those costs for his business by retaining employees with better wages and benefits and creating a safer environment. He said he believed all businesses should consider that approach, but stopped short of saying higher wages should be mandated.
“We need to encourage other businesses to do the same. I’m not necessarily saying we need to have a $15 minimum wage, but what’s the right thing for businesses to do?” Buskey said.
While favoring controlling taxes, at the same time Buskey said he backs a well-stitched safety net.
“This is where I come in as a liberal. Medicaid needs to be upgraded. We need to take care of our working poor and our poor elderly. We need to look at those things,” he said.
It’s no surprise that a longtime Farm Bureau employee believes in the value of agriculture to Vermont. Buskey said the state should continue to support all levels of farming, including small organic operations, farmers’ markets, and large dairy farms.
He said the value of the sector extends to tourism and quality of residents’ lives, pointing to the “beautiful open fields and meadows” of Addison County.
“We as a state really depend on agriculture to keep our state beautiful,” he said.
Asked to sum up why Addison-3 residents should consider his candidacy, Buskey cited his history as a moderate, “ability to listen to others and treat them with respect and invite everyone to the table,” and willingness to learn and work hard for small business and the economy.
“I’ve always felt that as individual citizens we need to take responsibility,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll offer some creative and realistic solutions to help my state and the citizens here in my towns.”