An officer and a farmer

Terry Williams running for Rutland County Senate seat

RUTLAND — Terry Williams is willing to work across the aisle if he’s elected to the Rutland County Senate seat. But he’s also part of a movement to get more Republicans elected to statewide office in general.

Call it leveling the playing field.

“We’ve identified 150 Republicans to run for statewide office,” Williams said in an interview last week. “We have 97 House candidates and 28 Senate candidates, so we’re pretty close. We’re going to give them a run for their money.”

“Them” would be the Democrats that overwhelmingly hold the majority of the Vermont Legislature with 95 House members versus 43 Republican House members, seven Progressives and five Independents. In the state Senate, there are 22 Democratic Senators, six Republicans, and two Progressives.

Williams is one of three Republicans running for three Vermont Senate seats representing Rutland County.

Terry Williams


But Williams, 68, also talked about his military career with the Army National Guard, where he said he learned how to work with different kinds of people. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 2004 just shy of 35 years, specializing in strategic planning, and organization and effectiveness training.  Williams was active duty for more than 22 of those 35 years.

“That’s one of my strengths,” he said. “In the military, we worked as teams and that has a political use as well. We needed each other.”

Like many conservatives in the Green Mountain State, Williams wishes “the moderate Vermont Republican” would make a comeback not only nationwide but here as well.

“We were more mature,” he said. “We used to be able to sit down and have an honest conversation about issues and if we didn’t agree, we’d talk again tomorrow. We don’t do that anymore. You disagree and that’s the end of the conversation.”

Williams is on his third term on the Poultney Select Board. He also serves on the Rutland Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Committee.

And this isn’t Williams’ first run for statewide office. He ran for the same Rutland County senate seat in 2018 and lost to Ed Larson in the Primary by a mere five votes, 2,048-2,043.

Williams has three grown children and four grandchildren.


In retirement, Williams was finally able to realize a lifelong dream of being a farmer. He grew up in Poultney and worked on local farms in the summer, but his father did not want him to pursue farming as a career.

“My father didn’t want me to get hurt,” he said. “So, I kind of always wanted to do it and I’ve done everything I wanted to do… and I got hurt, a couple of times.”

In fact, Williams is recovering from a second hip replacement in August. He broke his pelvis and some ribs after rolling his tractor over earlier this year. He also contracted Lyme disease a few years ago and struggled through the painful joints, achiness and other debilitating symptoms of the disease.

But he’s not interested in doing anything else. Williams was able to buy his great aunt and uncle’s 200-acre farm in Poultney three years after he retired, and dubbed it Slate Hill Farm. He has been a certified organic vegetable grower and hay farmer. Williams also raises chickens and sells eggs, and raises his own pigs and and cattle for small-scale meat production.

His love of farming is easy to understand.

“I’m outdoors. I’m my own boss. I love nature. I’m really a conservationist. I manage my forests, the wildlife.”

When asked what his first choice would be for committee assignment should he be elected, Williams didn’t hesitate.

“Agriculture,” he said. “And because there are so few Republicans, we’re pretty much guaranteed two committee assignments, (so the other would be) government operations.”

In agriculture, Williams said he’d like to see more state help directed toward keeping small farms alive.

“We need to start getting our small farms’ heads above water,” he said, adding that a plan to expand agritourism in Vermont must include smalls farms. Many small farms have diversified from dairy, which has struggled for years as milk prices fall. Many have transitioned to niche offerings like vegetables, cheese, fiber, wood, wine, maple, Christmas trees, pumpkins and other farm products that attract tourists, he said.

“I think the state should step in and help small farmers because they are small businesses,” he said. “We don’t need to concern ourselves with growing marijuana. I want to know where my food comes from. We should be producing what we need right here.”

As for Vermont’s dairy industry, Williams urges all Vermonters to buy local. And as farms like Thomas Dairy in Rutland Town, which is closing Oct. 1 after 99 years in business, could not weather the losses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams said diversifying is the way to go.


Williams also noted other issues:

Road maintenance: He said that’s one area where Rutland County could use some additional state funding. “I’d like to see more money for repairing roads,” he said, adding that according to a study done by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, municipalities maintain 84 percent of roads in the state but receive only 35% of available state highway funding. “I’d like to see some equity with our municipalities to fix our roads.”

• Conservation: Williams reiterated his support for conservation and a clean environment, but with a caveat. He definitely did not support the Global Warming Solutions Act, which Gov. Phil Scott vetoed last week, only to have the Vermont House override the veto. The bill establishes greenhouse gas reduction goals and sets up a climate board that will craft CO2 emission reduction policies.

“I’m all for conservation and a clean environment, but in the meantime you don’t want to destroy the economy of the state while you’re doing it. We need to live within our means. The tax and spend party wants to keep spending. I think everyone needs to live within a budget.”

Share this story:
Back to Top