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Rep. Kitzmiller to Retire 

bald white man with wire rim classes in suit and tie in front of gray curtain
Vermont Rep. Warren Kitzmiller (D-Washington-4) planned to retire at the end of this session after 22 years in office. Courtesy photo.
Montpelier’s longtime State Rep. Warren Kitzmiller (D-Washington 4) will be retiring at the end of this session, he said in an interview Monday. After 22 years, Kitmiller said he’s ready to get in some skiing and enjoy retirement.

Kitzmiller’s wife, Karen Kitzmiller, held the office for 11 years before she died at the age of 53 on May 20, 2001 of breast cancer. At that time former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean appointed Warren to Karen’s seat. He’s been getting reelected ever since, typically without spending money on advertising.

“Karen had the job for 11 years before it flipped over to me,” Kitzmiller said. “I have had it for 22 years. That makes it one third of a century that has been the Kitzmiller seat. Thirty three years between the two of us. That’s a pretty good run. It’s long enough for me.”

Kitzmiller also has a few “sidebar” reasons for leaving, he said:  “I am older. I move more slowly. My mind still works well though I sometimes forget a name. I feel my age sometimes. I can still walk to the Statehouse. I can still climb the stairs in the Statehouse … I’m physically fit. I’m doing pretty darn good for 79. I’ve got a life ahead of me. I want to take a few winter vacations.” 

Kitzmiller said he’s voted on thousands of bills over the years, but “the single vote that made me the most proud has always been voting for full marriage equality [in 2009]. Karen had the job when the state passed the civil union bill. She knew at the time that that wasn’t the end of the game. The goal was to have marriage equality for all,” he said. 

“I was very proud of Vermont. I got phone calls within the first week asking if I would perform a wedding for them,” Kitzmiller said, adding that he’s a justice of the peace as well as state representative. “People came from North Carolina and Virginia and central Vermont.”

One of the darker moments, Kitzmiller said, was losing the battle to keep human activity out of Berlin Pond, Montpelier’s sole drinking water source. After 100 years, he said, the Vermont Supreme Court determined that Montpelier did not have the right to control use of the pond. 

“I don’t know of any body of water in the world anywhere that has been improved by human activity,” he said. He fought hard  but ultimately got outvoted through two administrations, both of which have allowed for boating and fishing on the pond.

Kitzmiller will remain in office until January 2023, when a newly elected representative will fill his seat. To his successor, he has this advice: “Get ready. Because you are going to enjoy it like you had no idea how you would enjoy it.” He also advises “Work hard. Earn the job. Never spend more than $1,000 [on a campaign]. People don’t really respect high budgets for running.”