Women in Government

MarthaFeltusLYNDON - Last week, Vermont became the only state to have not yet sent a woman to Congress. Despite the state's forward-thinking population, Vermont fell short to Mississippi, who appointed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to temporarily succeed retiring Senator, Thad Cochran.

Nevertheless, there are still many women involved in the state's government, contributing daily to the betterment of residents' lives. One example is Caledonia-4 Representative, Martha Feltus.

According to her, Vermont's ranking isn't due to a gender bias. "The fact of the matter is that Vermont only has two senators like everyone else, but only one representative. So it's not like there are a lot of positions," she said. "All of the people in those three positions have been in them for a long time. So until someone decides not to run again, those positions are bing held. And in general, people seem to think they're doing a pretty good job."

Feltus began her career in local government while reporting for Lyndonville's retired newspaper, The Weekly News. Regularly she covered select-board, board of trustees, and planning commission meetings, eventually acquiring an interest in the topics being discussed.

From there, it didn't take long for Feltus to switch gears from reporting, as she was hired to the planning commission once a position opened up. "I expressed an interest to the existing members at the time, and they were just sincerely interested in someone else who was interested, and who would pay attention to the local community," she said.

Throughout her career, Feltus has never felt much of a prejudice from her male counterparts, but instead says that everyone encounters occasional assumptions. "I would say in the statehouse sometimes, people tend to think that women have more background or interest in childcare issues. But since my children are all grown, I don't chime in on those issues often because I don't have the personal experience to include. So no, I think people are just interested in your ideas for the community."

When asked if she'd like to see a Vermont woman in Congress, Feltus replied by stating, "Only if they're interested in the job." Just as she was hired, Feltus too believes that opportunity should be presented to those most devoted to the job, and to the community they serve. If that person happens to be a woman, great. But if not, that's perfectly fine too.

2017 was Feltus' last year serving as a select-board and trustee for the town of Lyndonville, but will remain to serve as a Caledonia County Representative for the foreseeable future.

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