What was her experience like with Emerge Vermont?
Even as a first-time candidate, Gabrielle Stebbins carries herself like a seasoned politician. She’s decisive about what areas her work focuses on, and she conveys her goals for Vermonters in a concise way. Gabrielle is an alum of the Emerge Vermont class of 2020. Her class was able to meet in person for all of their training days, which she says was an amazing experience. “[Emerge] is such a powerhouse….it’s a real leg up and a huge help for anyone who’s interested in running,” she said in a recent interview.
A number of women from her class joined her this election season in running for office, and Gabrielle even helped a fellow Emerge alum and running mate with her campaign because she knows just how daunting the whole experience can be. “It can feel like the great unknown,” she said about joining the political sphere. Through the guest speakers and organization of her Emerge training, Gabrielle was prepared to go into this untraditional campaign season.
What was the campaign trail like for Gabrielle?
Instead of canvassing and door-knocking, Gabrielle’s campaign trail took the shape of familiarizing herself with Burlington’s South End, the district she ran to represent. “Getting the flavor of the neighborhood” was how Gabrielle described walking the streets of her district and getting to understand voters. The influx of absentee ballot requests this election season was unlike anything we’ve seen before. Gabrielle was set on sending out handwritten postcards to voters in her district, but with the unprecedented number of absentee ballots Gabrielle had to bring in a little extra help to get it all done. She even enlisted the help of her 10-year old daughter to make sure every voter would feel a connection with Gabrielle and her campaign. In addition to handwritten letters, Gabrielle made hundreds and hundreds of phone calls to voters in order to connect with them during a very isolating time. Through phone calls, she also networked within the community through word of mouth to connect with even more voters.
All of her efforts paid off, and Gabrielle won her race for State Representative for the South End of Burlington. She says she’s excited to continue the hard work that the current reps have done for the community, but also fight for her own passions. “It’s a great honor to be given the opportunity to carry on a lot of the work that Mary Sullivan and Johannah Donovan cared about, but also to forge new areas of change,” she said.
What role will Gabrielle be filling in the Statehouse?
Gabrielle is passionate about many issues, but her expertise and main line of work focuses on climate change. Her career spans 20 years of hard work dedicated to environmental issues and energy. “I care about a lot of things…. But climate change most certainly is going to make everything else worse. Whether it’s social equity, access to food, affordability, water quality, or health, climate change makes everything worse,” she said. When Gabrielle takes her seat in the Statehouse, she will aim to answer questions like “How do we find the opportunity to transition our economy to one that is more economically sustainable?” and “How do we make more livable wage jobs here in Vermont by focusing on climate change and shifting over to activities and energy sources that are a lot cleaner and efficient?” There are many more questions to be asked and answered, and Gabrielle is committed to bringing her expertise and experience to the table.
What are her personal and professional goals for the upcoming year?
In looking towards the next year, Gabrielle has a few goals in mind as she takes on this new role in the legislature. Finding a balance between being a parent and having a full time job as a State Representative is important to Gabrielle. When I asked her in our interview about her personal goals for 2021, she said, “Making sure that I’m juggling my full time work with my desire to really serve my constituents well. I also want to make sure that I balance that work with being a present mom for my two kids…overall it’s figuring out what a healthy balance is.”
For her professional goals, Gabrielle is committed to taking time to connect with and coordinate with her constituents in a way that advances policies and puts federal aid to use in a way that grows Vermont’s economy. At the same time, she’ll focus on industries and businesses that can save Vermont money through energy efficiency and the decreased use of greenhouse gases. When she’s assigned to her committee, Gabrielle is dedicated to making a coordinated response with her team in a way that serves her peers and fellow Vermonters.
What advice would she give to women who want to get involved in their state or community but don’t know where to start?
Her simple but poignant piece of advice: “Start with what you care about,” she said. Honing in on areas that spark your interest and make you excited about getting up in the morning is a good place to start. Gabrielle also wants people to know that being involved doesn’t have to mean running for statewide office, it can mean being involved on the school board or being a volunteer in your community. “There are so many ways to serve, the sky’s the limit. Start with what you care about and the rest will fall into place.”
Gabrielle would love to hear from her constituents and from women and anyone hoping to help Vermonters succeed and grow. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Emerge has one goal: To increase the number of Democratic women in office who are reflective of the incredible diversity of the Democratic party by recruiting, training and providing a powerful network.