Our Emerge Vermont series highlighting Emerge Alumnae who are running for office continues with Kathleen James!
Kathleen is running to represent Manchester, Arlington, Sunderland and Sandgate in the Vermont House. Kathleen is the Executive Director of International Skiing History Association (ISHA) and the Editor of ISHA’s Skiing History.
I’m running to represent Bennington-4 (Manchester, Arlington, Sunderland and Sandgate) in the Vermont House of Representatives. Like many first-time candidates across the country, I decided to run in the months following the November 2016 presidential election. I was heartbroken by the way Americans were talking to each other—the deep division, the anger and hatred, the inability to respectfully disagree about fundamental issues while seeking common ground and a shared vision. Simultaneously, I took great hope and energy from the Women’s March and the wave of grassroots organizing that has swept the country, including in my own community, over the past two years. I remember standing on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building on January 21, 2017, with my partner and our children and more than 100 friends and neighbors from my community who had ridden an overnight bus down from Vermont. It felt wildly hopeful and it changed my life. I wanted to play a small part in helping to lead our country back to a place of healing. Vermont is the perfect place to make an impact, too, because it’s a small state where we still know how to work together.
I’ve lived in Manchester for 22 years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere. The Northshire has an amazing small-town vibe and deep history. There are many families who’ve lived here for generations—they carry the town’s institutional memory and traditions, and care deeply about its future. There are also many newcomers—defined as anyone who wasn’t born here!—who bring their own energy, ideas and contributions. It’s a vibrant mix.
What role has Emerge played in your candidacy?
From our very first meeting, Emerge has provided the hands-on tools that I needed to plan and run a credible, legitimate campaign. Even more important, my Emerge sisters have provided emotional support, encouragement, advice and friendship. Three of my Class of 2018 friends are playing key roles in my campaign, helping with everything from social media to policy research and strategy. Emerge is not just a training program. It’s a community.
What advice would you give another woman thinking about running for office?
You might want to assess your wardrobe. I’ve never dressed up so much in my life! I’m mostly wearing the same outfit; hopefully people haven’t noticed yet.