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Archive - Nov 3, 2008 - Commentary

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James Douglas

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — In his three previous successful gubernatorial bids, incumbent Middlebury Republican James Douglas has been able to cite a litany of priority issues to tackle while in office, including property tax reform, improving health care access and fixing the state’s roads and bridges.

This year, Douglas — and indeed other candidates for statewide office — are seemingly unified in rallying behind a single, dominant campaign issue: dealing with the sagging economy and its effect on the state budget.

Douglas is being challenged this year by Jericho Democrat Gaye Symington and Middlesex independent Anthony Pollina.

“The economy; that’s the major concern on the minds of everybody,” Douglas said during a recent interview at the Addison Independent. “It’s the top priority our state is going to face during the next couple of years.”

Thankfully, Douglas said, Vermont is contending with an economic slowdown that is less pronounced than other regions of the country.

“We have done well compared to other places, in terms of the national slowdown,” Douglas added. “Our banks are strong; they didn’t issue risky loans, to the extent that other states did. The foreclosure rate is low here. (Vermont banks) have cash to lend. Our financial system, locally, is in good shape.”

Still, Douglas noted Vermont is not “immune to the impact of what is going on around the nation and the world.”

Like Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, Douglas noted the extent to which many elderly Vermonters are dependant on investment income that has been taking a hit in the stock market.

“One report I saw indicated we are number one in terms of the percentage of our income tax receipts that come from capital gains,” Douglas said. “So when those gains disappear, as they are likely to for the next year or so, our general fund revenues are going to take a hit.”

View: Quick Read | Full Article

Anthony Pollina

Editor’s note: The following profile of gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina first appeared in the Addison Independent last spring and is reprinted here to provide more information for voters going to the polls next week.

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — It’s still early in the election year, but Middlesex Progressive Anthony Pollina has already grown weary of leaders in Montpelier saying what they “can’t” do for Vermonters, either due to scant finances or the sheer complexity of the problems at hand.

So, Pollina has decided to run for governor to tell citizens what state government “can” do for them.

“Overall, I would say I share the same frustration that a lot of other Vermonters share with the current governor (Middlebury Republican James Douglas), who tends to be holding us back from dealing with the challenges we face,” Pollina, 56, said during a March 28 interview with the Addison Independent. “The way I would categorize it is, the current governor spends too much time lecturing us about all the things he thinks we cannot do.”

Pollina, during a far ranging interview, discussed his stand on a variety of campaign issues, including health care reform, boosting affordable housing and creating new jobs. He also addressed the perception, held by some in the Statehouse, that his candidacy could siphon votes from a Democrat challenger to Douglas. Vermont Democrats have yet to field a candidate for governor.

Pollina is no stranger to statewide races and controversy.

In 1984, he was the Democratic and Rainbow Coalition candidate for U.S. Congress.

He ran the first-ever Progressive Party campaign for governor in 2000, polling 10 percent of the vote. He followed that up in 2002 with a bid for lieutenant governor, garnering 25 percent of the vote in a very competitive race.

View: Quick Read | Full Article

Gaye Symington

Editor’s note: The following profile of gubernatorial candidate Gaye Symington first appeared in the Addison Independent last May and is reprinted here to provide more information for voters going to the polls next week.

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Jericho Democrat Gaye Symington has a special fondness for the word “energy” when she talks about her campaign for governor these days.

The current Vermont House Speaker talks about the energy she would bring to the job as the state’s chief executive, and how energy policy is of paramount importance at a time when gasoline is hovering around $4 per gallon.

Symington enters a race that includes incumbent Gov. James Douglas, a Middlebury Republican, and Progressive Anthony Pollina of Middlesex. Now in her second term as speaker, Symington when away from the Legislature is development director for the Intervale Foundation, a nonprofit organization that runs various agriculture-based ventures in Burlington.

It wasn’t until recently that she decided to forego a re-election bid for her House seat in order to make her first run for governor. She said she looks forward to the challenge.

Symington said she first considered running for governor last fall, but a busy legislative session and other responsibilities forced her to delay her decision until this spring.

“As the legislative session moved on, more and more people came up to me and said, ‘You are the person to do this; we really want you to consider doing this,’” Symington recalled. “It really wasn’t until late-March that I realized I really have to allow myself to think this through in a complete way.”

She formally announced her gubernatorial bid at the Statehouse earlier this month. Symington said she came to the realization she could bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to charting a more prosperous course for Vermont.

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Tom Costello

By KATHRYN FLAGG

MIDDLEBURY — Democrat Tom Costello aims to topple incumbent Republican Brian Dubie in this year’s race for lieutenant governor with a platform that calls for economic assistance for Vermont seniors, a vigorous debate about the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor and a focus on positive ways to attract business to the state.

The 63-year-old Brattleboro lawyer and veteran state representative is up against Dubie, who has served three terms as the state’s lieutenant governor, after winning out against Nate Freeman of Northfield in of the two contested statewide primaries last month.

“Our present administration is not dealing specifically and effectively with these problems which are solvable,” said Costello, who jumped into the race in June after learning that Dubie was running unopposed.

Costello was born and raised in Rutland, and graduated from Mount St. Joseph’s High School in 1963. He attended St. Michael’s College in Colchester, and after graduating enlisted as a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He served in Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor and a Purple Heart.

After returning from Vietnam, Costello earned a degree from Boston University Law School in 1974, and moved back to Rutland, where he practiced law until 1980. During that time, Costello began his political career in 1976 as a Rutland City representative in the Vermont House. He served until 1980, when he moved to Brattleboro, where he later started his own law firm, Costello Law Offices.

Costello represented Brattleboro for an additional three terms in the legislature from 1994 to 2000. He was the chair of the judiciary committee from 1994 until 1998, and also served on a special legislative committee investigating Vermont State Police practices.

VERMONT YANKEE

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Brian Dubie

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie is seeking to win another two-year term with a proposed agenda that includes working to increase renewable energy sources in the state, crafting more sustainable state budgets in view of declining revenues, and enacting tougher laws on sex offenders.

Dubie, 49, is seeking his fourth consecutive term as lieutenant governor. The Essex Junction Republican faces major party opposition this year from Democrat Tom Costello (see story, Page 1A).

In an extensive interview on Tuesday at the Addison Independent, Dubie discussed his priorities for the next biennium, offering more of what he says he has delivered to Vermonters. He touted a six-year record in which he says he pushed for the creation of more “green” and high-tech jobs in Vermont, diversification of the state’s energy sources, a bolstering of aid and services for the elderly and needy in the face of surging fuel prices, and harsher penalties for those convicted of sexually assaulting children.

Dubie has condensed his accomplishments into a binder he titled “Lt. Governor’s Logbook: A Record of Success.” The latest edition includes 122 pages of text evoking Dubie’s vision for the state and initiatives he has supported to attain that vision.

“(The Logbook) gets thicker every year,” said Dubie, a Vermont Air National Guard veteran and current American Airlines pilot.

The Vermont lieutenant governor’s primary duties include presiding over the state Senate and casting the deciding vote in the case of a tie. But Dubie said he has tried to take a more visible, active role during the past six years by:

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Michael Fisher Q and A

The following seven questions, along with a requested word limit, were asked of each local candidate for the Vermont House.

The questions are not repeated in the context of each candidate’s response, but are recalled by subject at the beginning of each answer.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

 

1) HEALTHCARE: The state’s Catamount Health plan is up and running, are you satisfied that it is meeting its goals and, if not, what additional steps should the state take to expand health care coverage? (Maximum 150 words.)

 

2) ELECTRICITY: The expiration of Vermont’s contracts with its two big electricity providers, Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee, is looming. And there are concerns about re-licensing Yankee. What should Vermont do to meet its energy needs? (150 words.)

 

3) AGRICULTURE: What state-level supports and policies regarding family farms would you promote as a legislator? (150 words.)

 

4) PROPERTY TAXES: The idea of a property tax cap to limit the rise in school spending has been suggested, but such reductions in funds could diminish the quality of education in our schools over time. How do you solve that dilemma? (150 words.)

 

5) HEATING: Vermonters are worried about how they will pay to heat their homes and gas up their cars this winter. What can the Legislature and state government do to help? (150 words.)

 

6) ECONOMY: State government is cutting back as tax revenues fall short of expectations. What can state government do to improve the Vermont economy? (150 words.)

 

7) SINGLE ISSUE: Discuss an issue of importance to you that you would work to address if elected. (100 words.)

 

 

View: Quick Read | Full Article

David Sharpe Q and A

The following seven questions, along with a requested word limit, were asked of each local candidate for the Vermont House.

The questions are not repeated in the context of each candidate’s response, but are recalled by subject at the beginning of each answer.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

 

1) HEALTHCARE: The state’s Catamount Health plan is up and running, are you satisfied that it is meeting its goals and, if not, what additional steps should the state take to expand health care coverage? (Maximum 150 words.)

 

2) ELECTRICITY: The expiration of Vermont’s contracts with its two big electricity providers, Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee, is looming. And there are concerns about re-licensing Yankee. What should Vermont do to meet its energy needs? (150 words.)

 

3) AGRICULTURE: What state-level supports and policies regarding family farms would you promote as a legislator? (150 words.)

 

4) PROPERTY TAXES: The idea of a property tax cap to limit the rise in school spending has been suggested, but such reductions in funds could diminish the quality of education in our schools over time. How do you solve that dilemma? (150 words.)

 

5) HEATING: Vermonters are worried about how they will pay to heat their homes and gas up their cars this winter. What can the Legislature and state government do to help? (150 words.)

 

6) ECONOMY: State government is cutting back as tax revenues fall short of expectations. What can state government do to improve the Vermont economy? (150 words.)

 

7) SINGLE ISSUE: Discuss an issue of importance to you that you would work to address if elected. (100 words.)

 

 

View: Quick Read | Full Article

Barbara Rainville Q and A

The following seven questions, along with a requested word limit, were asked of each local candidate for the Vermont House.

The questions are not repeated in the context of each candidate’s response, but are recalled by subject at the beginning of each answer.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

 

1) HEALTHCARE: The state’s Catamount Health plan is up and running, are you satisfied that it is meeting its goals and, if not, what additional steps should the state take to expand health care coverage? (Maximum 150 words.)

 

2) ELECTRICITY: The expiration of Vermont’s contracts with its two big electricity providers, Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee, is looming. And there are concerns about re-licensing Yankee. What should Vermont do to meet its energy needs? (150 words.)

 

3) AGRICULTURE: What state-level supports and policies regarding family farms would you promote as a legislator? (150 words.)

 

4) PROPERTY TAXES: The idea of a property tax cap to limit the rise in school spending has been suggested, but such reductions in funds could diminish the quality of education in our schools over time. How do you solve that dilemma? (150 words.)

 

5) HEATING: Vermonters are worried about how they will pay to heat their homes and gas up their cars this winter. What can the Legislature and state government do to help? (150 words.)

 

6) ECONOMY: State government is cutting back as tax revenues fall short of expectations. What can state government do to improve the Vermont economy? (150 words.)

 

7) SINGLE ISSUE: Discuss an issue of importance to you that you would work to address if elected. (100 words.)

 

 

View: Quick Read | Full Article

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