For some Vermonters, GOP convention is ‘a family affair’

Print More

(Host) Of the 28 Vermont Republicans meeting this week in St. Paul, eight of them are married couples.

Matt Laslo talked to several of them about why politics is such a big part of their personal lives.

(Laslo) It’s hard being in the minority. And a Republican from Vermont is definitely that.

(Paul Carroccio) “Yeah it is a little bit lonely, mostly Democrats and Independents, a lot of Independents in Vermont."

(Laslo) That’s Paul Carroccio from Bondville. He and his wife Carol are alternate delegates in St. Paul. They like to joke and laugh together, and also support each other in their political convictions. But this week they feel like they are in the majority.

(Paul Carroccio) "Its refreshing for us to know that there are people out their with like minds and that there are so many of them."

(Laslo) The Carroccio’s own a small company that services condominiums. They say their role in politics is to keep a dialogue going throughout the state. Carol Carroccio says honest, patient debate goes a long way.

(Carol Carroccio) "I think you believe, you always believe that you can make a difference. You know that you might be a reason for change in a situation."

(Laslo) Vermont Republicans are used to good heated political debates, especially with their liberal friends.

(Walt Freed) "I don’t think it is lonely at all. We have different points of view, and you’ll find that in every state."

(Marge Freed) "That’s what makes the conversation interesting. It’s not lonely."

(Laslo) That’s Marge and Walt Freed from Dorset. At the convention they sit next to each other, with their eyes glued to the speakers. He retired as the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives four years ago. She grew up in a staunchly Republican family, though …

(Walt Freed) "Mine wasn’t, maybe more bucking the tide. I grew up in upstate New York, which was a solid Republican area and to some degrees still is, though has certainly changed. And in bucking the tide my family was Democrats, my parents were Democrats."

(Laslo) Walt Freed kept in the family tradition by moving to Democratic Vermont and becoming a Republican. Marge Freed, who is a Select Person in Dorset, says being politically active is a big part of their relationship.

(Marge Freed) "I think it’s a way of life. It’s a piece of our life. What we love what we do."

(Laslo) Danby residents Barbara and George McNeill also have politics in their veins, though it wasn’t always that way. She is currently on the school board and he is an administrator for The Ripon Society, a Republican think tank. They didn’t get involved in politics until George felt sportsmen were being unfairly treated by state officials. He complained to a state senator and hasn’t looked back.

(George McNeill) "She said, `You know I really don’t have to listen to this. Sportsmen aren’t organized. You’re not organized.’ And Barbara said, `That was like raising a red flag to someone like me.’ So, I said, `We’ll get them organized.’"

(Laslo) And George McNeill did. He started the Sporting Alliance for Vermont’s Environment. Soon, once the kids had moved out, Barbara was hooked, too.

(Barbara McNeill) "I’m more politically involved because of marriage. And then you just get into it and before you know it you start stuffing envelopes and answering the phones."

(Laslo) George says their thinking is simple.

(George McNeill) "I’ve found that if you don’t get involved then, A, don’t complain; and, B, the idiots get to makes the decisions. That doesn’t mean you win every fight, that you get it all your way. But at least you had your say."

(Laslo) And Vermont’s Republicans are having a say in St. Paul. They are seen as one of the most moderate, or even liberal, delegations in the Party. So maybe these Vermont couples do just like being in the minority.

From Capitol News Connection, I’m Matt Laslo for VPR News.

Comments are closed.