Politics

Kitty Toll, former House Appropriations chair, is running for lieutenant governor

Former Rep. Kitty Toll, D-Danville, at the Statehouse in Montpelier in February 2020. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Kitty Toll, a former Democratic state representative from Danville who led the House’s powerful budget-writing panel, is running for lieutenant governor, she told VTDigger.

Toll served two terms as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, which she said gave her a keen understanding of the interplay between federal spending and state budgeting. Vermont is at a crossroads, she argued, with unprecedented amounts of one-time federal cash to spend and could benefit from her experience.

“I think that this is a time where we have to be very thoughtful in the choices that we make,” she said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Asked to name key priorities she would target for investment, Toll pointed to housing and broadband.

“It's very important to me that no communities or parts of communities are left behind,” she said.

Toll joins an increasingly crowded race. With incumbent Lt. Gov. Molly Gray running for Congress, many are jumping in to claim the state’s coveted No. 2 post. 

On the Democratic side, declared candidates already include state Rep. Charlie Kimbell, D-Woodstock, and Patricia Preston, the executive director of a small nonprofit. 

Two Republicans are also vying for the post. They include state Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, and Gregory Thayer, a conservative activist and former Rutland City alderman.

More are likely to join the field. Former Lt. Govs. David Zuckerman and Doug Racine are also weighing whether to ask voters for their old job back.

A lifelong resident of the Northeast Kingdom, Toll plans to formally announce her run with a launch event at her parents’ Danville dairy farm, one of the original Cabot Creamery co-op members. Her family is well known in the region — and in Montpelier. Toll’s late mother, Catherine Beattie, spent one term in the House, and her sister, state Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, serves as the upper chamber’s Appropriations Committee chair.

The socially liberal and fiscally moderate Toll was in the Legislature for 12 years before opting not to run for re-election in 2020. She has since been appointed to serve as a trustee of the University of Vermont and has spent time raising money for the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. 

Unless the governor dies or becomes otherwise incapacitated, the lieutenant governor has few actual powers and responsibilities, save for breaking ties in the Senate and helping to appoint committees. But the position offers a statewide platform, which Toll said could be put to use bringing together an increasingly polarized public.

“Our democracy is at stake, and I really feel compelled to be part of the process to secure it,” she said. “The position of the lieutenant governor of Vermont has the ability to ensure that civil discourse continues, respect continues, that we're listening to people on all sides of issues, of all political stripes.”

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Lola Duffort

About Lola

Lola Duffort is a political reporter for VTDigger, covering Vermont state government, the congressional delegation and elections. She previously covered education for Digger, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and the Rutland Herald. She has also freelanced for the Miami Herald in Florida, where she grew up. She is a graduate of McGill University in Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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