Memorial Day – reflecting on the cost


The markers for Matthew Commons and Jason Cunningham in Arlington National Cemetery.  They were killed in 2002 in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda

Today is Memorial Day. As my grieving veterans remind me, it is not military appreciation day, it is not thank a veteran day, and it is not the official kick off summer.

Today is the one day on the calendar where we are meant to reflect on what it coststo be an American and to be free.

Costs means lives lost. It means parents never seeing their child again, husbands and wives never embracing their spouse again, children who will live without their father or mother. And while all human’s lives are eventually lost for myriad predictable and unpredictable reasons, most human lives are not lost preserving American’s freedoms.

More than 1.3 million lives have been lost in defense of our country and our freedoms.

We live in a representative democratic republic which means our government is formed by the people and their collective decisions on self-government are made through their elected representatives. In this type of government, here is who makes the decisions about where our American troops are sent to fight.

To be sure that is:

• The President

• And our Senators and Congress men and women

But equally as responsible for determining whether or not we will risk lives are all of those who elect our President, Senators and Congress men and women. That includes:

The 18 year old and the 80 year old, the history scholar, the businessman who is being harmed by a regulation, the mother of a new private in the army, the person who was inspired enough to work on an elected officials campaign, those who can not tell you who the president of their country is, the director of a non-profit helping to protect defenseless children, those who have read the Constitution and those who have not, those who have served in our military, those who have served in the peace corps, teachers, school board members, and those who don’t like politics and so don’t register to vote.

Each of these individuals is equally responsible for the decisions made about where our U.S. troops are sent to fight because they each choose to vote or not to vote and for whom. Those collective decisions are how we govern this country and how we make decisions.

WE. Not them. WE.

In a republic, a constitution or charter protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government.

On Memorial Day, we need to reflect on the United States Constitution.  This foundational document informs how we have agreed to govern ourselves in the United States of America.  Enshrined in it is our Bill of Rights which explicitly states our individual freedoms that we collectively as Americans make decisions to spend lives to defend and keep.

Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press, The Right to Bear Arms, The Housing of Soldiers, Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures, Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases, Rights in Civil Cases, Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden, Other Rights Kept by the People, Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People.

On Memorial Day, there are specific fallen names which remind me of the importance of participating in our democracy and of remaining grateful.   Here are the names of  American lives that were spent in defense of our country and our rights:

Killed on March 2nd 2002 on Takur Ghar “Robert’s Ridge” Afghanistan

• PO1 Neil C. Roberts, 32

• TSgt John A. Chapman, 37

• SrA Jason D. Cunningham, 27

• CPL Matthew A. Commons, 21

SGT Bradley S. Crose, 22

SPC Marc A. Anderson, 30

• SGT Phillip Svitak, 31

Killed In Ramadi, Iraq


Sgt. Christopher Ramirez, 34


1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley, 27


Sgt. Joshua Allen Johnson, 24

Killed near Naray, Afghanistan June 21st 2006

• Staff Sgt. Jared Monti, 30

• Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig, 28

• Sergeant Patrick Lybert, 28

• Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, 22

Killed near Kamdesh, Afghanistan November 26, 2006

Take a moment today to think of their families and all whom they left behind.  Take another moment to reflect on how each of us can work to better uphold our individual responsibilities as Americans.


2017 Windham-Bennington District Town Meeting Information

2017 Windham-Bennington District Town Meeting Information

Times and locations for our districts Town Meeting and Australian Ballot items are belowAct 46 Australian ballot votes and other notable Town Meeting education articles are in green.   On Monday night March 6th, I’ll be traveling to all of the Bennington County Towns, starting with Searsburg, then Stamford, then ending in Readsboro. On Tuesday March 7th, town Meeting day, I’ll be accompanied by Windham County Senator Becca Balint as I travel to our Windham County Towns beginning with Wardsboro’s Town Meeting, then Dover and ending in Whitingham.

Additional INFORMATIONAL meetings:

  • Twin Valley Joint School District Informational Meetings will be held on Tuesday February 28th at 7 pm at Twin Valley Elementary in Wilmington and on Thursday March 2nd at 7 pm at Twin Valley Middle high School in Whitingham
  • Dover, Wardsboro and Marlboro Act 46 Study Committee final meeting on Monday March 27th at Dover Town Hall (next to the Dover Free Library) at 6:30 PM
  • Dover Candidates Forum Tuesday February 28th at 6:15 pm Dover Town Hall
  • Dover Pre-Town Meeting Tuesday February 28th at 7:00 pm Dover Town Hall


Stamford Elementary School
Town Meeting: Monday March 6th at 7 p.m. Warning
School District Meeting: Monday March 6th at 7:30 pm Warning
Australian Ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  • Stamford town officers
  • Stamford school district officers


Readsboro School Auditorium
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 6th at 7:00 p.m. Warning
Australian ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  • Readsboro town officers
  • Readsboro school district officers


Searsburg Town Office
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 6th at 7:00 p.m.


Wardsboro Town Hall
School District Meeting: Monday March 6th at 6:30 p.m.
Town Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 9 a.m. Warning
Australian ballot open 10:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

  • Act 46 merger
  • Wardsboro town officers
  • Wardsboro school district officers
  • Unified School District officers


Dover Town Hall on Dover Common
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. Warning
Australian ballot open 10:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

  • Act 46 merger
  • Dover town officers
  • Dover school district officers
  • Unified School District officers


Twin Valley Middle/High School
Town Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. Warning

  • Article 32: Shall the town raise and appropriate 100,000 to the litigation fund in the event we need to litigate with the state due to the inequality of the education tax

School District Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m Warning
Australian Ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Vermont’s state election consequences

imageI was talking to a young twenty-something at a breakfast last weekend and asked her if she was registered to vote. Not yet she said. I’ve known her she was little and so I pressed a bit. She then patiently explained to me that she is thoroughly disgusted by the presidential election, and that really, living in Vermont, her vote won’t count anyway.

I’ve been trying to figure out when people started believing that choosing not to vote would have no consequences? That we are all powerless pawns in a corrupt system and all attempts to change the system will fail. That turning away and ignoring the ugliness might make it disappear. Or worse, that we have no power, no voice. Where did that hopelessness and cynicism come from?  How is it that so many Americans willingly choose not to vote.

Elections have consequences. And every vote does matter. When TJ and I got married just after the November 2000 election, we didn’t know if George Bush or Al Gore had won the election because it was that close. When I was elected in 2014, I beat the incumbent by 39 votes. We’d both like to let you know that each one of those 39 votes mattered a whole lot, and there were real consequences to that election. Among those consequences was the fact that I had to cast a single vote for governor representing all of the people in all of my towns because the governor’s race was also too close, and so the legislature had to elect the governor.

There were other consequences of the close elections in 2014, including finally having this district’s interests, rather than national interests, as the focus of your representative’s effort in Montpelier. Rather than our neighbor’s being told they just have to “deal with it because they live in Vermont…” regarding poor broadband and cell service, because of that close election, they have begun to be empowered with information and resources and connections to finally start making some headway in our smallest towns. Full and part-time residents in our valley also have had a much better idea of what is going on with legislation and how they can weigh in, because of that close election.

It matters if you vote this year. Vermont is definitely getting a new Governor as Governor Shumlin is not running. We are also getting a new Lieutenant Governor, and though many may think the position is of little consequence, that office has a great deal of weight in the running of the Senate.

Elections have consequences. Not voting has consequences. And every vote does matter. Vote for our local races and our new Governor, and your state rep. Vote for our servicemembers, and for our kids, and for our nation’s future. Yes, it is ugly out there, but it really matters.
You can register to vote at your town clerk’s office or online with the Vermont Secretary of State. And you can vote now, or request an absentee ballot, or at the polls on November 8th.

SoVT All-Payer presentation, Minter and Scott holding forums in the Valley

There are a couple of important opportunities for you to weigh in on our state’s future happening in Southern Vermont in the next two weeks – I encourage you to attend those events you can, ask questions, and share your experiences.
Draft all-payer waiver agreement presentations
Southern Vermont Forum announced
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11, 4-6 p.m. CVPS/Leahy Community Health Education Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen Street, Rutland
  • Wednesday, October 12, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Brattleboro Retreat Conference Room, 16 Anna Marsh Ln, Brattleboro
A public forum will be held with Al Gobeille, Chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, Governor Peter Shumlin, Lawrence Miller, Chief of Health Care from the Governor’s Office, and Robin Lunge, Director of Health Care Reform to present a draft of the All-Payer Model, Vermont’s  health care reform proposal. The draft proposal is under review and is expected to be amended before it receives the final approval of Governor Peter Shumlin, Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen, Chairman Gobeille, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) . The forum is designed to present the plan to the public and those involved in Vermont’s health care system, and to take questions and comments from the audience.


Meet with Laura in Stamford 

Wednesday October 12th in Stamford at 7 pm at the Stamford Elementary School gym.  Looking forward to meeting with residents in Stamford to discuss the upcoming legislative session.  Hope to see you there!

Economic Forums with candidates for Governor: Phil Scott and Sue Minter – hosted by the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber and Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation


October 13th – Q&A forum regarding the Vermont economy with gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott
Time: 1:30-2:30
Venue: Dover Town Hall (adjacent to the Dover Free Library)
Moderated by Joe Arnold and brought to you by the BDCC and the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce
October 19th – Q&A forum regarding the Vermont economy with gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter.
Time: 1:30-2:30
Venue: Memorial Hall – Route 9 Wilmington, Vermont
Moderated by Joe Arnold and brought to you by the BDCC and the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce


Next Dover, Marlboro, Wardsboro Act 46 study committee meetings October 13th, 6:30 PM at Marlboro Elementary School.  Website posted with agendas, minutes and videos at

Candidates Forums The Deerfield Valley Rotary and the Wardsboro Public Library have arranged two candidate forums where both I and my challenger will appear and answer questions from the audience.  This is an important opportunity to ask questions and hear the answers from both candidates.  Voters from Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro,

Whitingham should feel welcome to attend either or both of these forums.
  • Thursday October 20th 7 pm at the
    Dover Town Hall
  • Friday October 28th 7pm at the Wardsboro Public Library

VtDigger has just published a piece which does a great job reflecting both my priorities and the priorities of my challenger which you may wish to consider as you research our campaigns and positions in advance of these forums and election day November 8th.


Support Laura’s re-election

Thank you very much for the financial, volunteer, sign hosting and letters to the editor support to date as I seek re-election to continue representing Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham. There is an important campaign finance reporting date coming up on Saturday Oct, 15th.

I have had to turn multiple campaign contributions away because as your independent state representative I continue to choose not to accept support from special interests, political parties or political action committees.

Unfortunately, special interests, political parties and political action committees are once again funding opposition to my campaign. And that is going to increase now with the end of the campaign in sight. I appreciate any level of support my constituents might be able to provide – every $10, $25 or $50 helps a lot! Donating is easy online here:

Letter’s to the Editor are also a great way to show support and tell other voters why they should re-elect me.  Most of our towns read the Deerfield Valley News where support letters go to with the exception of Stamford where folks would send support letters to the Berkshire Eagle directed to

As always, if you need help or assistance don’t hesitate to call me at 384-0233 or email at

Kind regards,
Rep. Laura Sibilia
State Representative
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

In memory…

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.


SFC Jared Monti


It is impossible to know the angst of waiting that the military wife or husband, child, parent or sibling endure during a deployment, unless you have personally experienced it.  Family members hope and pray that those in power, sending their loved one into harms way, understand the value of the individual lives that have committed themselves to our country’s service.

Some never came home.

1441256_150159988691531_2033351250816443254_nTwo in particular have made an impression on me that will last the rest of my days.  SFC Jared Monti died saving the lives of a handful of his brothers, including one of my brothers.
I never met him, but I think of him often when I am with my brother’s children.

1LT Mark Dooley a police officer in our little valley, was killed during a deployment with the Vermont National Guard to Iraq.  The only time I had an opportunity to have a conversation with him I asked him to “take care of my little brother over there”.  Mark was one of 36 servicemen with ties to Vermont to lose their life during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Please join me in taking a moment today to remember SFC Monti, 1LT Dooley and all who have perished while in service to our county.

How to see what bills I’ve co-sponsored and what roll call votes I’ve made

The Vermont Legislative website is brand new this year, and as frequent past visitor I feel qualified to say Vermonters are much better served!  This new site is very very user friendly.

This website makes it easy to see what bills a committee is considering, as well as the testimony that witnesses are providing, and who the witnesses are.  If you are interested in what the Healthcare, Education of Commerce Committee is doing on a certain day, simply go to their committee page.

You can also keep better tabs on your elected officials!  If you search for my name, it will bring you to my bio page, and at the bottom is a link to all of the bills I have agreed to co-sponsor.  (Co-sponsor means I either support the language in the bill, or I support a broader discussion and consideration of the language in the bill).  There is also a tab where you can see how I voted.  This is a little deceptive, as most votes are voice votes, and not roll call votes.  What you see recorded are the roll call votes.    Click here to see my page and links to legislation and voting.

Here’s to increased transparency!

Last day to register to vote for Laura is Wednesday October 29th

Registering to vote is easy – but you have to do it before Wednesday October 29th if you want to vote for me in the November 4th election!

See/speak to your friendly town clerk (they really are all friendly and helpful!) listed below to engage in this important part of our democracy:

Dover Town Clerk’s office is 102 Vermont Route 100 phone # 464-5100 ext. 2

Readsboro Town Clerk’s office is at 301 Phelps Avenue phone # 423-5405

Searsburg Town Clerk’s office is 18 Town Garage Road, Wilmington phone # 464-8081

Stamford Town Clerk’s office is 986 Main Road phone # 694-1361

Wardsboro Town Clerk’s office is 71 Main Street phone # 896-6055

Whitingham Town Clerk’s office is 2948 Vermont Route 100, Jacksonville phone # 368-7887

Sibilia campaign update

Campaign signs are in!
Email me at if you would like to host one

The candidates have been notified that two candidate forums for the district have been scheduled by the Deerfield Valley Rotary and the Deerfield Valley News:

Dover Town Hall on Wednesday, October 22, at 7 pm. The forum will include Windham County Senate candidates and the three candidates for the Windham-Bennington House district. The evening will include an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves to voters, answer questions posed by a Rotary Club moderator, as well as questions from the audience.

Readsboro’s historic Bullock Building on Tuesday, October 28, at 7 pm. The forum will include the Bennington County Senate Candidates and the three candidates for the Windham-Bennington House district. The evening will include an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves to voters, answer questions posed by a Rotary Club moderator, as well as questions from the audience.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the successful campaign fundraiser earlier this month – we exceeded our expectations for the day and had fun doing it!

I’ve recently been elected Windham County’s Associate Representative for the Vermont School Boards Association.  This organization is doing a great job educating school board members around the state about the impacts to the state education property tax with an easy to understand presentation on current educational spending data:

I’ll be writing again soon about how I think we need to address the education and property tax challenges in our state.

Last Sunday I attended the Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival and saw many old friends!  Back in 2007/2008 when I was at the chamber, we worked really hard to develop this “state” festival for our area.  There have been many challenges, including a need to develop legislation to allow bottle sales at festivals, the great recession and having to cancel the 2011 festival due to Tropical Storm Irene.  I’m so pleased to see it continuing to grow and thrive despite the challenges!

Lastly, I share the concerns I am hearing from voters about Vermont Health Connect.  This is a really big, really expensive challenge that Vermonter’s want done right.  The Governor’s continued refusal to tell us how he proposes to pay for single payer until after the election as well as the recent taking down of the Vermont Health Connect website for repairs are both causes for serious concern.  On the flip side, I think one of the things the Administration did really right in attempting to get a grip on this situation was putting former Agency of Commerce and Community Secretary Lawrence Miller in charge.   I’ve worked with Lawrence on flood recovery and the Windham Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, and I have a lot of respect for his capability, candor and energy.   If anyone can help devise a sensible way forward, and I am not convinced anyone can, it would be he.  I have reached out to him to ask when he or Commissioner Robin Lunge might be available to come and answer voters questions, and will let you know when and if they are able to come and take your questions.

I’m proud of the response the campaign has received so far and grateful for the time, talents and opinions of so many that have helped the campaign to date.  If you agree that we can do more for our district with fresh energy representing us, I’m asking for your vote BY November 4th (remember you can vote now!)

You can find information on upcoming events, all of my contact information, my snail mail address, ways to volunteer and lawn sign request form at my website.

Thank you!


Easy absentee balloting is available for the November 4th general election

Did you know the voting in this district has been so close there have been two recounts in the last 12 years? Did you know there are actually three people running in this election?  Yes, every vote is going to matter!

Town Clerk’s in Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham have received ballots for the November 4th General election.

Are you going to be out of town, at college or otherwise unable to vote on November 4th? So easy to vote ahead of time!  This Vermont absentee ballot request form can be delivered, faxed, mailed or emailed to your town clerk’s office.

Dover Town Clerk’s office is 102 Vermont Route 100 phone # 464-5100 ext. 2

Readsboro Town Clerk’s office is at 301 Phelps Avenue phone # 423-5405

Searsburg Town Clerk’s office is 18 Town Garage Road, Wilmington phone # 464-8081

Stamford Town Clerk’s office is 986 Main Road phone # 694-1361

Wardsboro Town Clerk’s office is 71 Main Street phone # 896-6055

Whitingham Town Clerk’s office is 2948 Vermont Route 100, Jacksonville phone # 368-7887