- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Women are expected to hold most of the top leadership positions in the Vermont Legislature next year.

Democrats, who hold a majority, nominated Sen. Becca Balint, of Windham County, to be the state’s Senate president pro tempore on Sunday. She would be the first woman and first openly gay person to hold the post if elected by the full Senate.

Sen. Alison Clarkson, a Democrat from Windsor County, was picked to be majority leader and Sen. Cheryl Hooker, of Rutland, as assistant majority leader and whip. In the House, Rep. Jill Krowinski, a Democrat from Burlington, is expected to become the next speaker of the House.

“It’s quite exciting,” Clarkson told WPTZ-TV. “We’re thrilled. We’re a strong team.”

Balint would succeed Sen. Tim Ashe, who retired to run for lieutenant governor. She told the Brattleboro Reformer that she was heartened to hear from many people by phone, text and email after her nomination.

“I know it’s a big deal, and I don’t want the story to be just about that,” she said. “But I know that for not just women and girls but anyone who feels like they, don’t feel like they have an entry into positions of power - people who feel like they’ve been on the outside looking in - this has been a boost to their spirits. I’m trying to get more comfortable in understanding that. The symbolism is important.”

Voters elected Democrat Molly Gray to be lieutenant governor in the Nov. 3 election, so she will preside over the Senate.

House Republicans will continue to be represented by Minority Leader Pattie McCoy, of Poultney. Senate Republicans picked Randy Brock, of Franklin County, to be minority leader.

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