Heroism 2.0: Vermonters on the Front Lines of Health Care Debate

August 2, 2017
John Walters, Seven Days

As the American Civil Liberties Union's Twitter feed put it, "Senators Collins, McCain and Murkowski deserve gratitude — but the real heroes are the millions of Americans who showed us what democracy looks like."

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Now That Skinny Repeal is Squashed, What's Next for Health Care?

August 1, 2017
Sarah Jaffe,

Mari Cordes talks about the organizing she did against the health care bill and why it's important that activists keep fighting for the health care we need.

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These Candidates Are Challenging The Status Quo In Their States This Election

October 31, 2016
Emily Tate, The Huffington Post

With presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and close Senate and House contests dominating the news cycle, key down-ballot races have gone largely unnoticed. But across the country, state and local candidates are campaigning on some of the most progressive platforms in American history.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called these down-ballot candidates “the living spark of the progressive movement” in August 2015, at the annual candidate training hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an organization that fights for progressive reform.

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After Bernie: Will "Our Revolution" Deliver on Its Promise of "Political Revolution"?

October 25, 2016
Michael Corcoran, Truthout

When Our Revolution -- the new organization founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders -- kicked off in Burlington, Vermont, a nurse and long-time union organizer, Mari Cordes, introduced the iconic senator in front of the many thousands watching across the country. While Cordes is a major advocate for social change in Vermont, she is not a national figure. But some might call her a pioneer whose story may be the epitome of the kind of "political revolution" that Sanders says is "just getting started."

Cordes is among several Vermont progressives, many of whom have worked with Sanders in the past, who have already had success in winning down-ticket primaries this year against what Cordes described in an interview with Truthout as "the Democratic establishment in Vermont." She was endorsed personally by Bernie Sanders in her successful primary challenge for a seat in Vermont's House of Representatives, against an incumbent Democrat. Since then, she has been among the first candidates endorsed by Our Revolution. She was also endorsed by Rights and Democracy (RAD), a Vermont-based group she helped found, which has similar goals as Our Revolution, emphasizing down-ticket races at the local level.

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Mari Cordes Receives National Recognition

October 19, 2016
Press Release

Mari Cordes, who is running for the Vermont House of Representatives in Addison-4, was named to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s 2016 Power List, which recognizes rising political stars from across the country.

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People's Action Endorses 22 Candidates with the Values and Vision to Build the Progressive Political Revolution

October 18, 2016
Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

People’s Action, a national organization of more than a million people, is endorsing 22 candidates around the country. The candidates exemplify the leadership qualities, values and vision necessary to build a strong future for everyone – not just the wealthy few.

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Susan Borg and Richard Nessen from Lincoln, Vermont: "She's going to be a very, very strong Representative"

October 11, 2016

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Catch Mari on Bernie's livestream!

August 24, 2016

“Change never takes place from the top down, it always takes place from the bottom up.”

- Senator Bernie Sanders

This past Wednesday night, surrounded by fellow progressive candidates, Bill McKibben, and a standing-room-only crowd, I had the honor of introducing Senator Bernie Sanders at his national broadcast launching the organization Our Revolution. It was a privilege to join Bernie in carrying the message that the people's movement sparked by his presidential candidacy has transformed this country’s political landscape. Today, meaningful progressive change can and will occur from our local school boards all the way to the halls of Congress!

Watch my speech following Bill McKibben’s introduction, and keep listening for Bernie’s full message.

Primary roundup: Turnout, Sanders, incumbent victories

August 10, 2016
Jess Aloe, April Burbank and Cory Dawson, Burlington Free Press

Vermonters went to the polls on Tuesday to choose nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, state senators and state representatives, and cast ballots on local issues.

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A New Path to Progressivism: An Interview with Vermont House Candidate Mari Cordes

August 1, 2016
Victoria Albert, In These Times

“I live with my husband and our small flock of quirky chickens on our off-the-grid homestead,” reads Mari Cordes’ campaign website.

But don’t be fooled by her humble words; Cordes is a powerhouse.

As president of the 2,000-member Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (VFNHP), Cordes successfully fought for paid sick leave, improved health care legislation, an end to insurance discrimination against transgendered patients and increased oversight of for-profit hospital buyouts, all while working 12-hour shifts as a cardiology RN.

In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ groundbreaking progressive campaign, Cordes has set her sights on something even bigger—the Vermont House of Representatives.

On August 9, the self-described progressive Democrat will make her first run for elected office, facing off against Stephen Pilcher and incumbent Dave Sharpe in the Democratic primary.

Vermont is one of the few states with a precedent of progressive leadership. Not only have third-party progressive candidates won seats in the state House and Senate, but Sanders also hails from the Green Mountain State. Riding the wave of political optimism created by his campaign, candidates like Cordes are working to ensure that the senator’s progressive legacy will live on in local government.

Her work has earned her the endorsements of the Vermont AFL-CIO, the Vermont National Educators Association and the Vermont State Employees’ Association.

In These Times recently connected with Cordes by phone to discuss her past, present and future as a political leader.

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July 20 Bristol House Party for Mari Cordes for State Rep

July 10, 2016

Come join friends and neighbors from the Addison-4 District (Lincoln, Starksboro, Monkton and Bristol) at a house party to meet Mari Cordes, Progressive Democratic candidate for State Rep and learn about her exciting campaign. Your neighbor in Bristol, Becca, will be hosting this event which is a great opportunity to share about the issues, concerns, and hopes you have about your Addison-4 community and communities across the state of Vermont.

Light refreshments will be served but bringing a snack or beverage to share would be much appreciated. Additionally, as seating may be limited, if you require a chair and have access to a portable/folding chair bring that along too. The event kicks off at 6:30 and will conclude by 8 p.m.

Please see Becca’s address and directions for parking below.

If you have any issues with driving/parking directions or other questions call Jessica at 781-507-4035.

We look forward to a wonderful evening of neighbor to neighbor discussion as we all come together to build more equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities in Addison-4 and across Vermont!

For more information about Mari and to support her campaign please see:

PARKING: Please park at the Shaw's supermarket lot on the right hand side when facing the supermarket. (The lot wraps around Shaw's behind Bristol Beverage on the right, which is the best place to park). If you have food or a chair please feel free to drop that off at the house prior to parking. The lot is a couple blocks down from 14 High street.

DIRECTIONS to walk to 14 High Street from Shaw's parking lot/Bristol Beverage:

Walk from the parking lot to the front of Bristol Beverage and from there walk toward Mountain Street and follow it toward Mountain Terrace. Walk one block up Mountain Terrace, and at the T take a left onto High street. Becca's will be the second house on the right, with green metal and natural wood siding.

See google map walking directions here:,+Bristol,+VT+05443/@44.1335973,-73.0773184,17z/am=t/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cb56597eb3163e3:0xfb8a3349cc0feb3!2m2!1d-73.0764628!2d44.1335387!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cb565977c31196b:0x48697f216aae1b92!2m2!1d-73.073786!2d44.134025

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Dunne unveils plan to overhaul Vermont's Healthcare System

June 30, 2016
Vermont Business Magazine

Cordes quoted: “Matt and I agree that healthcare is a human right. I’ve been a registered nurse in Vermont since 1988, and I’ve witnessed firsthand how a political system hijacked by private, corporate interests has an impact on the health and well-being of Vermonters,” said Mari Cordes, RN VA-BC, and former President of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. “Matt has a plan to help turn this around, starting with a system of publicly funded universal primary care. He’s also right to prioritize community health programs. Our current system is broken, and we need a new approach to turn it around. I have confidence in Matt’s plan to put us back on track and implement policies that will improve access to high quality care for all Vermonters.”

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Paid Sick Leave Policies are Good for All

December 16, 2013
Mari Cordes

Proud to be part of a coalition that made this into law this year! "We are living in a remarkable period of time when policy, resources and protections have shifted dramatically toward large businesses and away from people, with a continuing and disturbing trend of deteriorating standards for the lowest paid workers while the wealth and opportunities of very few are flourishing. All this while evidence grows that paid sick leave policies work and support both people and business."

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Vermont Advocates Continue to Push for Single Payer Health

December 3, 2015
Lisa Rathke, Times Argus

A survey of the 3,000-member Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals showed overwhelming support for singer payer, said Mari Cordes, a nurse member of the union.

Health care providers want anyone who needs medical attention to get it as early as possible, she said, with no barriers to accessing care when their condition worsens or becomes life-threatening and costlier to treat.

“Get the insurance companies out of our exam rooms and get our hard-earned money out of administrative waste and exorbitant CEO compensation,” Cordes said. “A universal publicly funded health care system is the only way to do that.”

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Labor for Bernie Letter for Mari

May 26, 2016
Labor for Bernie

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We are writing on behalf of Mari Cordes, a working nurse in Burlington, Vermont and past president of the 2,000-member AFT-affiliated RN union at UVM Medical Center.

.... She was instrumental in securing her state federation’s support for [Bernie Sanders] campaign and joined other members in lobbying the American Federation of Teachers to back Bernie’s presidential bid.

Mari is now running for office herself, as part of the surge of interest in local progressive politics generated by Bernie’s national campaign. She is running for the Vermont State House of Representatives from the Addison-4 District (the towns of Lincoln, Starksboro, Monkton, and Bristol).

She is campaigning, in part, based on her past labor-related work as a statewide leader of the Vermont Progressive Party and [activist] member of the Vermont Workers Center. She has been one of Vermont’s leading advocates for single-payer health care, workers' rights, and other causes, including environmental protection. (She is treasurer of the Vermont board.)

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Vermont Orders Insurance Companies to End Transgender Exclusions

Transgender Law Center

Mari Cordes co-led the Equal Care Coalition that won this: "Transgender Law Center congratulates the state of Vermont today, as it becomes the fourth state (and DC!) to order insurance companies to end their practice of excluding medically necessary care for transgender people."

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Vermont’s Voice For Nurses–and All of Us!

June 16, 2016
Suzanne Gordon

On this site in the past, I’ve tried to highlight the work of nurses who have taken their patient advocacy into the arena of public policy making and electoral politics.

Mari Cordes, a nurse of twenty-eight years, the last sixteen at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, has done both. After tireless campaigning for single payer health care in the Green Mountain State and for safer nurse-patient staffing ratios in her own hospital, Mari has become a candidate for the state legislature.

Before taking this plunge into local politics, Mari served as president of a 2,000-member nurses union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. In that capacity, she both represented her co-workers in contract negotiations and day-to-day grievance handling and served as a constant presence in Montpelier, the Vermont state capitol. There, she helped draft bills and organize community support for paid sick leave, an end to health insurance plan discrimination against transgendered patients, and better regulatory oversight when local hospitals are sold to for-profit operators.

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