A special ceremony was held Jan. 10, 2017 in the Vermont Senate Chamber, honoring the 48-year span of elected service by William “Bill” Doyle.
Phil Scott led the praises (and sometimes “roastings”) by colleagues from both sides of the aisle – all of whom acknowledged that Doyle had secured a permanent place in Vermont history; not only because of his 24 election wins and landmark legislation to make Vermont one of the most open states for voter participation, but also his ability to fully listen to all sides of an issue.
Doyle concluded the January 10 ceremony with the following statement:
“Thank you, Mr. President, for giving me a few moments to share a few thoughts with the members of the Vermont Senate and its guests. It seems like only yesterday that I was sworn in as one of the state senators from Washington County. And although some of you may think I was around when Vermont’s first constitution was written in 1777, you are mistaken. I was living in New Jersey at that time. I am very grateful to be honored today by many of my former colleagues in the House and Senate. I would like to thank my family for all that they did to support my political career.
“Much of my work, and the length of my tenure, would not have been possible without a supportive family. My wife, Olene, and my children, Lee, Keith and Kelly, all helped me in my campaigns they gave me the time to engage in the grueling schedule and demands of serving in a legislature with little staff and the need to provide constituent service all year long. I care to share a few themes that guided my work in this Chamber. One was to give voice to Vermonters who felt excluded by the political process. While other states have worked to pass legislation that has a tendency to restrict voter participation, I am proud that in Vermont, we have done the opposite. We have enacted laws that provide every reasonable opportunity to Vermonters to easily register to vote and to otherwise participate in the electoral process.
“Another important goal was to keep the General Assembly as a citizen legislature. Legislators who interact directly with constituents are best able to understand their needs, and either help craft legislation that addresses their issues or intervene to ensure government is treating them equally and with due process. Town meeting is the essence of democracy. We have worked to provide municipalities with the flexibility to maintain a traditional town meeting, but we also have recognized that as Vermont grows in population, and the lives of Vermonters has become more complex, and jobs are a long drive away from their home town, it may be necessary to annually address a town’s business by use of the ballot box and provide for daylong and absentee voting opportunities. What better way to get a sense of your district, or what Vermonters are thinking on pending policy questions, than to ask them. My town meeting day survey was put together every year with input from fellow legislators and community leaders around Vermont. The results of the survey often reflected the course followed by the General Assembly.
“The reapportionment of the House and Senate every 10 years is key to ensuring that all corners and parts of Vermont have representation in the General Assembly. Requiring Senate Districts to follow county lines as much as possible have helped to maintain the political identities of the state’s 14 counties and to avoid the mischief that takes place and the disenfranchisement that results in other states. I learned much from the seven governors and hundreds of legislators with whom I served, and from those who took the time to call, write, email or attend public hearings on the issues of the day. In return, I hope I responded the best I could to those requests, needs and goals. I hope that members of the General Assembly and my former constituents will allow that I did my best to help steer our government to meet the ever changing needs of Vermonters and the state we love. Thank you for the honor today.”