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Story + Video: Shumlin meets with refugees

Gov. Peter Shumlin visited a classroom of refugees ranging in age from 18 to 60, participating in a class teaching basic English at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue Tuesday morning. (Times Argus/Jennifer Langille)

BURLINGTON — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday visited with refugees from around the world that have settled in Vermont to welcome them to the state as a debate rages around the country regarding the acceptance of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn nation. The governor spoke to about a dozen refugees living in Vermont as they attended an English language class at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington. They have arrived in Vermont from several nations, including Bhutan, Somalia, Myanmar and the Congo — some within the past few months and some years ago. Shumlin, one of the few governors who has spoken in favor of welcoming Syrian refugees since concerns were raised following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, told the new residents he wanted to “come and thank you on behalf of Vermonters for being Vermonters.”

“I can’t tell you how excited we are that you have joined the best state in the country. Continue Reading →

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Smith drops out of gov race as wife battles cancer

House Speaker Shap Smith

MONTPELIER — Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith announced at a news conference Tuesday that he is dropping out of the race for governor as his wife battles cancer. Smith, 49, said his wife, who recently had surgery as part of her treatment, must now undergo additional treatment for breast cancer. He said he is choosing to suspend his campaign to spend more time with his family because it is “the right thing to do.”

“As of today I am suspending my campaign for governor. My wife Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this fall and she recently underwent surgery. We were very optimistic that that was the course of treatment that she would need when the surgery took place but the doctors have told us that more treatment is necessary to ensure a full recovery,” Smith told reporters and a crowd of supporters on the steps of the State House. Continue Reading →

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Trailing Bernie: Sanders nabs second big labor endorsement


ernie Sanders picked up a second major labor endorsement Thursday from the American postal Workers Union. The 200,000-strong union, a member of the AFL-CIO, is backing the 74-year-old Sanders in his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination over rivals Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. The union represents postal workers in all 50 states. The campaign released a statement from union President Mark Dimondstein, who called Sanders “a leader in the fight to protect the public Postal Service” and “a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country.” The union cited Sanders’ efforts to opposed the closing of post offices and mail sorting facilities around the country, as well as his opposition to ending Saturday delivery. Sanders has also been a strong proponent of modernizing the U.S. Postal Service by adding banking services, copying and selling hunting and fishing licenses. Continue Reading →

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Sanders seeks African American support in South Carolina

Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a rally in North Charleston, S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Three months into an improbable presidential campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders has seen his poll numbers rise and is feeling buoyed by enthusiastic support from his fans. But plenty of challenges remain for the 73-year-old democratic socialist whose core support continues to come from white voters. Sanders’ campaign has sensed the need to appeal beyond those core supporters as the primary calendar progresses. On a two-day swing through South Carolina, Sanders and his staff made a concerted effort to appeal to African Americans by highlighting racial justice and criminal justice reform in his stump speech and in private events with African American pastors and community leaders. The pitch made in his stump speech, however, was made to predominantly white crowds at all four campaign events. Continue Reading →

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Capitol Beat Podcast with Speaker Shap Smith 8-20-15

Shap Smith

Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith, a newly declared candidate for governor, joins Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal Goswami on the Capitol Beat Podcast. Continue Reading →

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Smith makes gubernatorial bid official

Shap Smith

MORRISVILLE — Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith formally launched his bid for governor Wednesday, saying he wants to help towns and cities across the state realize the same type of revitalization that his hometown of Morrisville has seen in recent years. Speaking behind the former Arthur’s Department Store in downtown Morrisville, and flanked by his wife, Dr. Melissa Volansky, his two young children and many members of the House Democratic caucus, Smith said he would look to help Vermont grow and renew itself as his hometown has done. “Today I asked you, my family, my friends and my colleagues, to gather here in the heart of Morrisville, in the heart of Vermont, to announce my candidacy for governor of the state of Vermont,” Smith said. “I’m running for governor because the success of towns like Morrisville will be a vital part of Vermont’s future. And because I want every Vermonter to have the opportunities and choices that I’ve had.”

Smith, 49, noted that his parents moved to Wolcott in the 1970s. Continue Reading →

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