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  Jane Kitchel Seeks Senate Seat

Caledonian-Record - June 8, 2004

Jane Kitchel of Danville announced Monday she will seek election to the Vermont state Senate.

Kitchel, a Democrat, is running for one of two Senate seats in Caledonia-Orange District, which includes all of Caledonia County , as well as the towns of Bradford, Newbury, Fairlee, West Fairlee, Topsham and Orange in Orange County .  

Kitchel is no stranger to state government, having recently retired as secretary of Human Services.  She began as a social worker in the Caledonia district and spent 37 years in human services, eventually assuming top leadership position.  She worked as deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Vermont Department of Social Welfare under Govs. Madeleine Kunin, Richard Snelling and Howard Dean.  Dean appointed her secretary of the Agency of Human Services, a Cabinet-level position.  During her tenure, she initiated and implemented the first statewide demonstration project to move low-income Vermont families from welfare to work through employment training and support programs.  Kitchel oversaw the expansion of the stateís pharmaceutical assistance to seniors and the expansion of health-care assistance to all Vermont children, the uninsured and low-income workers.  

Kitchel grew up on the Beattie farm in Danville and was exposed to political life early on.  Friends of her family introduced her to Sen. Ralph Flanders, and Kitchel remembers him.  Her mother, Catherine Beattie, served in the House of Representatives and her father, Harold Beattie, was a selectman.

She said her decision to run was not made quickly, commenting, ìI weighed it all out.î  She knows ìto serve the people well is hard workî but she is prepared to make the commitment.  Kitchel said someone told her running for public office ìis like a job interviewî and she looks forward to getting out all over her Senate district and meeting voters.

Kitchel believes one of the major issues facing the state is health care and government organization and structure.  She said numerous compartmentalized programs have evolved that provide services to narrow categories of recipients, but that this compartmentalization is inefficient, expensive and can be frustrating to someone looking for help, who may not ìfitî into the tight boundaries of a particular program.

According to Kitchel, the Legislature has not grappled with the large question of how state health-care services will be financed.  In a few years, Medicaid will face a $40 million shortfall and the Legislature must make some very tough decisions on how to handle the shortfall.  Kitchel believes her background and experience can be helpful making the tough decisions on financing and organizing human service programs.

She added, ìThatís why I decided to run; I can be a voice on issues.î

She stressed, ìYou have to accept the fiscal realityî that the state canít afford to do everything and ìyou have to prioritize where you want your public resources to go.î

Kitchel asserts, ìYou have to have spending that is sustainableî and ìyou have to decide the right balance.î

Kitchel mentioned a quote by the environmentalist John Muir, ìEverything is hitched to everythingî as she discussed the connections among health care, mental health and corrections and how all of those topics lead back to strong, healthy communities.  She said strong communities include good jobs.  She talks about ìlooking at our systemsî and ìseeing how state policies can help communities.î

A very strong believer in community and local control, Kitchel sees healthy communities helping people in ways the state cannot.

ìCommunities are so important,î said Kitchel, who looks forward to getting out and meeting people in towns she will represent, seeking their input to learn what the publicís priorities are and how and where to spend the stateís limited dollars.

óSource:  The Caledonia-Record.  St. Johnsbury , VT , Tuesday, Jun 8, 2004 .  Vol. 166, Number 259.  Pages 1 & 20.