I’ve spent the majority of my free time over the past few weeks catching up on some books sitting on my “to read” shelf. While there hasn’t been much free time between being with family, work, meeting with constituents and preparing for the upcoming legislative session – I have been able to read two books that span various challenges of 5 different leaders and how they rose to meet their respective problems. One being, Promise Me Dad by Joe Biden, and other is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book on Leadership that uses four Presidents; Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson as case studies of leaders and how they faced adversity and addressed theirs and quite frankly our nation’s most trying and historically defining moments. Kearns Goodwin argues that each of these leaders was raised and tested throughout their early years to harden them and give them the character needed to address the fundamental transformations they brought to our nation.
In preparing for the upcoming session – I can’t compare the challenges we face as a state to the dissolution of our union or the great depression or picking up the mantle of civil rights in light of a national tragedy, but I can learn from leaders who faced challenges we can’t imagine in our time and how they worked to address them, and I did. I’ve always found myself a student of history and especially political history, and I often find myself seeking advice from the pages of history in my own public service.
For my friends in St. Albans – these legislative updates are not new. For my new constituents across Franklin County and Alburgh, I am excited to introduce you to my legislative updates. I do my best to send these on a regular basis throughout the session and a few times in the summer and fall. I hope these will serve as a way to keep you up to date to what is going on in the Senate and remind you that I look forward to hearing from you. This year – I am going to add from time to time what I am reading and how it has impacted me both as I see the challenges facing our state and how we can apply these lessons to meet our common goals.
I believe learning is critical to success for any leader and success for a leader, more importantly, represents better well-being for their constituents. Besides engaging in the works of Biden and Kearns Goodwin since the election, I’ve met with leaders in our dairy industry, I’ve discussed challenges in health care with various health care organizations across our community, I’ve met with 5 select boards so far and plans to meet with 4 others and much more. I’ve met with Scott Administration to discuss legislative priorities, attended legislative briefings, and worked on drafting legislation to help meet the challenges we see here in Franklin County and Alburgh. Many of the topics of those meetings will serve for topics in future legislative updates.
I look forward to being sworn in as your next State Senator on Wednesday, and I look forward to working with all of you to meet our collective challenges in the weeks, months and years ahead. This week – I will leave you with the same ending that Kearns Goodwin left us with – “Lincoln never forgot that in a democracy the leader’s strength ultimately depends on the strength of his bond with the people. In the mornings he set aside several hours to hear the needs of the ordinary people lined up outside his office, his time of ‘public opinion baths.’ Kindness, empathy, humor, humility, passion, and ambition all marked him from the start. But he grew, and continued to grow, into a leader who became so powerfully fused with the problems tearing this country apart that his desire to lead and his need to serve coalesced into a single indomitable force. The force that not only enriched subsequent leaders but has provided our people with a moral compass to guide us. Such leadership offers us humanity, purpose, and wisdom, not in turbulent times alone, but also in our everyday lives.” (p. 368).