Release: Rutland Man Wins Essay Contest

Sanders' Engages Vermonters on How to Reduce Deficits

As ideas emerged from the president's deficit commission, Sen. Bernie Sanders asked Vermonters to write a short essay to share their own ideas on how to reduce the $13.8 trillion national debt in a fair and sensible way.

More than 150 Vermonters submitted thoughtful essays.You can read all the submissions on the senator's Facebook page.

After a week of voting, Sen. Sanders personally called Lawrence "Rip" Kirby of Rutland to congratulate him on winning the contest.  The prize: Publication in the Congressional Record and lunch with Bernie.

As a White House deficit commission floated proposals that would hurt the middle class and working Americans, Sanders sent e-mails and posted a video on his Facebook page asking Vermonters for their suggestions. More than 150 thoughtful essays were submitted. After the field was narrowed to three finalists, the essays were posted on the senator's official Senate website. More than 1,400 people voted in an online contest to determine a winner.

Lawrence "Rip" Kirby of Rutland, Vt., received 601 votes, or 45 percent, of total cast. The other two finalists were George Davis of Williston, Vt. and Beverly Frost of Sheffield, Vt.  Davis finished second with 533 votes. To read the finalists' essays, click here.

"To reduce the deficit and accumulated debt we must understand their root causes and history," Kirby's essay began. He then outlined short-term, medium-term and long-term problems followed by his proposed solutions.

Kirby is an electrical engineer for Central Vermont Public Service in Rutland. He has two children. His son, David, is a student at Rutland High School, and his daughter, Libby, is a sophomore at the University of Vermont. "I'm just a guy with a few ideas on his mind," Kirby said after learning he tallied the most votes.

In his e-mail introducing the essay contest, Sanders noted suggestions from the White House deficit commission leaders to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction and the child tax credit, increase interest rates on student loans, increase the gas tax, and increase co-pays for veterans health care. "I think there's a better way. What do you think? I look forward to your suggestions," Sanders said. After the essays were submitted, online voting began Dec. 7 and ended at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. 

The winner's prize: publication of the essay in the Congressional Record and lunch with the senator.  The senator called Mr. Kirby today to congratulate him.