Former staffers reflect on Sen. Leahy’s legacy after retirement announcement


BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Monday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said he won’t be seeking an eighth term in the Senate, and will leave office when his current term expires in January 2023.

Leahy, 81, will have served 48 years in the Senate by then. For many of Vermont’s current leaders, their paths into politics and public service began in Senator Leahy’s office.

“Right out of college from St. Mike’s, I took a job in Burlington working at the Senator’s front desk,” said Ted Brady, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

Brady, a 2000 graduate of Saint Michaels College, was eventually asked to work out of Washington D.C. for Senator Leahy, and his job included everything from opening the Senator’s mail to giving him a ride.

“The Senator Leahy we all saw is the senator that actually exists,” Brady said. “He’s a great Irishman who likes to tell a great story, likes to laugh and likes to make other people laugh.”

He added that the list of Leahy proteges is impressive, ranging from judges and mayors to legislators and executive directors of various organizations.

That includes Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger – long before his time serving Queen City, he was Leahy’s intern.

“He’s affected so many Vermonters personally, I can count myself as one of those,” Weinberger said. “I was an intern 30 years ago in Senator Leahy’s Washington D.C. office for 8 months. The lessons I learned in that time about collaboration and public service and hard work stick with me to this day.”

In addition to his former staffers’ well wishes, a number of Vermont leaders also chimed in on Senator Leahy’s announcement:

Senator Bernie Sanders

“I know I speak for all Vermonters in expressing the deep gratitude we feel for the extraordinary role that Pat Leahy has played in representing Vermont in the U.S. Senate for the last 46 years.

He has been a towering figure as chairman of the Agriculture Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Appropriations Committee. He leaves a unique legacy that will be impossible to match. Jane and I wish he and Marcelle a wonderful and well-earned retirement.”

Governor Phil Scott

“On behalf of all Vermonters, I want to thank Senator Leahy for his nearly five decades of service in the U.S. Senate, and for all he has done for Vermont over the course of his extraordinary career.

The Senator has been an incredible champion for Vermonters, and his leadership and experience has ensured our state is well represented in Congress. It is thanks to him, and the funding he’s secured for our state, that Vermont is in a position to come out of this pandemic stronger than before and tackle big challenges from broadband and infrastructure to the opioid crisis. We are indebted to him.

On a personal note, I greatly appreciate the Senator’s friendship and his willingness to work with me and my team over the last five years. It is with the greatest respect and gratitude that I wish him, Marcelle and their entire family all the best for a bright future, and – come January 2023 – enjoyment throughout a well-deserved retirement.”

Rep. Peter Welch

“It is a historic and bittersweet day. Like so many Vermonters, I appreciate the incredible service that Patrick J. Leahy and Marcelle Leahy have given all of us in Vermont for so long, but it is hard to imagine the United States Senate without Patrick Leahy. No one has served Vermont so faithfully, so constantly, so honestly, and so fiercely as Patrick.

Patrick’s life as our longest-serving senator has been dedicated to serving Vermont, always putting Vermonters and their values and aspirations first. Patrick loves Vermont and Vermonters love Patrick. While Patrick has been a giant in the U.S. Senate, consulted by presidents and world leaders, he is always happiest on his farm in Middlesex and being with his fellow Vermonters. He never left his roots in Montpelier or the values of his parents, who instilled decency, honesty, and service.

“With his wife Marcelle as a true partner in his journey, at his side every step of the way, Vermont has been enriched by their devotion to our democracy and our beloved Green Mountain State. Their leadership and legacy of service to Vermont will never be exceeded. Thank you, Patrick and Marcelle.”

Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray

“In these challenging times when the needs of our state are so great, it is hard to imagine not having Senator Leahy at the helm continuing the fight for Vermont in Washington. As Vermonters, we have been served well by Senator Leahy’s fierce commitment to the needs of our small, rural state over the last five decades. 

Senator Leahy and Marcelle, as well as the entire dedicated and hardworking Leahy staff, have assisted countless Vermonters and have served tirelessly with an increasingly rare humility, compassion and, commitment to service, good government and meeting human needs. 

Over the last five decades, when at times our nation’s moral compass has wavered, Senator Leahy has remained steady, standing by Vermont’s values and working to ensure our nation respects and protects those values. From human rights and civil liberties to international engagement and humanitarian relief, Senator Leahy has served as Vermont and our nation’s north star. 

Senator Leahy’s public service remains an inspiration to me, to generations of Vermonters, millions of Americans, and to countless people around the world whose lives are better for his service. 

I offer Senator Leahy and Marcelle a bittersweet and most heartfelt congratulations on today’s announcement and I look forward to the continued work we will do together for Vermont in the year ahead.”  

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos

“Words alone cannot express my gratitude for Senator Leahy’s decades-long championing of voting rights and voter access.

Senator Leahy has always used his voice to speak out against injustice at the ballot box. He has worked to fight voter suppression and mend the torn fabric of disparate voter protections from state to state.

His appropriations pen has helped ensure that our election systems were adequately funded, and that we had the resources in Vermont, and across the country, to bolster the security and integrity of the voting process.

In addition, Senator Leahy has championed the environment – especially Lake Champlain, protecting and improving human rights, banning landmines and protecting individual privacy rights.

I know that I join a long line of Vermonters, and Americans, forever grateful for everything the Senator has done. Bruce Wayne once said ‘Batman has no limits,’ but in real life we know that Senator Leahy has been the real limitless superhero fighting for fair elections and for our democracy.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger

“Senator Patrick Leahy’s contributions to Vermont have been vast and profound.  In Burlington alone, his hard work, wisdom, and persistence have rebuilt the post-industrial shores of Lake Champlain into one of the country’s best 21st century lakefronts, transformed Church Street into one of America’s great pedestrian marketplaces, and strengthened our vital institutions for the future, from the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain to the Burlington International Airport.  

The Senator has personally impacted the lives of so many Vermonters over his long and steady career of service. I will always be grateful for the eight months in 1991 when I served as an intern and mail clerk in Senator Leahy’s D.C. office learning lessons of collaboration, commitment, and the impact of public service that have stayed with me to this day.  Stacy and I congratulate and thank the Senator and Marcelle for their incredible service to our state and wish them all the best for the momentous year ahead and all their future endeavors. Burlington and Vermont looks forward to welcoming them home.” 

John Brumsted, President & CEO, UVM Health Network

“Like my fellow Vermonters, I am both heartened and saddened by the news from Senator Leahy today. Senator Leahy’s long service to our State and Nation is inspiring, and his legacy will be felt for generations. Senator Leahy has worked tirelessly to advocate for, showcase and honor his home state, bringing the Green Mountains to Washington, D.C., through hearings, events, food, stories and his photography. The health of Vermonters has been improved time and again thanks to Senator Leahy’s leadership, most recently thanks to his advocacy for COVID-19 relief funding for Vermont, which in turn ensured our health care system was able to remain stable and provide services for the patients who need us most. On behalf of the University of Vermont Health Network, I wish Senator Leahy and Marcelle well as they make this transition, and look forward to seeing them in Vermont more often.”

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