Martin LaLonde announced his candidacy for the Vermont House of Representatives from Chittenden District 7-1, which encompasses the southwest section of South Burlington. LaLonde, his wife Anne and their two children, Griffin (15) and Tess (12), are residents of Four Sisters Road.
“I am seeking election to the Vermont House to use my experience in law, education, and natural resources issues for the benefit of South Burlington residents and all Vermonters,” LaLonde said.
LaLonde, age 50, is an attorney educated at the Michigan Law School, Michigan Business School, and Alpena Community College. Upon graduating from law school, he worked for a federal appellate court judge and a federal trial court judge. LaLonde then became a trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where he worked for 13 years. In 2007, already knowing Vermont from spending time here for vacations and family gatherings, LaLonde and his wife decided to move here to raise their family.
LaLonde has been active in the South Burlington educational community, including volunteering extensively at his children’s elementary school, where he and his wife in 2013 received the South Burlington Educators Association Layman’s Award for service to the school. He has been a mentor at the Orchard School and assisted in building sets for this year’s middle school plays. LaLonde is currently serving his second three-year term on the District’s School Board and is also on the Board of the Vermont School Boards Association.
“Educational policy is certainly one of my passions,” LaLonde explained. “My wife and I have found the public education offered in this community to be excellent and I have worked to maintain that excellence as a member of the School Board. But I feel that some of the greatest challenges our schools face, both here in South Burlington and throughout the State, will need to be addressed at the State level.” Among these challenges are how the state should fund education and whether and how the state’s school governance should change. “In Montpelier,” LaLonde said, “I hope to be able to use my experience to ensure that Vermonters have first-rate educational opportunities, from pre-kindergarten through college, at a cost the State’s taxpayers can afford.”
“Vermont’s exemplary schools help attract businesses to the State,” LaLonde continued, “and this and economic development initiatives will help Vermont thrive.” LaLonde’s view of how smart growth can occur has been informed by his participation on the South Burlington Form Based Code Committee, which has been drafting an update to the land development regulations for City Center – part of which is included in a tax increment financing (“TIF”) district. “I have learned a lot from this process – the importance of gathering diverse view-points from the real estate and development community, neighborhood and school district representatives, and environmentalists to come to a consensus on how growth should occur; and using incentives such as the TIF district designation to stimulate economic development. I would look forward to taking these lessons to the State House.”
LaLonde believes that growth in employment opportunities in Vermont is crucial, while at the same time emphasizing protection of the state’s natural resources. “I went to law school in 1990 specifically due to my interest in environmental issues,” LaLonde said. “During thirteen years defending the federal government’s land management agencies such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, Minerals Management Service and others, I learned to navigate the conflicts between conservation and using our natural resources.” LaLonde believes that this experience and his immersion in environmental policy issues would serve him well as a member of the Vermont House.
LaLonde also looks forward to the challenges involved in the complicated and controversial issues involved in health care reform. He believes that quality health care for all Vermonters is an imperative – and to achieve that goal will require figuring out how the financing can and will work. “While this is not yet an area of my expertise,” LaLonde said, “I have the skills and commitment to help craft a solution that will work for Vermonters and Vermont’s businesses. It should be quite an interesting couple years for the legislature dealing with this issue.”
The current representative for Chittenden District 7-1, Michele Kupersmith, has decided not to seek another term. She will be LaLonde’s campaign treasurer. “She has done an outstanding job for the district,” LaLonde said. “If elected, I will do my best to carry on her tradition of community engagement and working for Vermonters from all walks of life.”
LaLonde has had the privilege and good fortune of being the primary at-home parent in the LaLonde household. He has found time outside his stay-at-home dad duties to enjoy Vermont’s beauty through biking, cross country skiing, and watercolor painting. He has also had the opportunity to indulge his love of music through learning to play the guitar, singing with his daughter, and listening to his son play the piano and his daughter play the violin. “My family and I have a good life here in Vermont. With my kids settled in at high school and middle school, I am eager to become further involved as a State Representative in making Vermont even better for all of us.”