Policy issues aside, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Matt Dunne has a singular issue that strikes a bipartisan chord: He believes the lieutenant governorâ€™s salary of $61,000 per year is significant enough to warrant a full-time effort from the elected candidate. He notes Lt. Gov. Dubie is gone almost two-thirds of the year working as an airline pilot.
He doesnâ€™t begrudge Dubie his job as a pilot, and he freely admits that prior public servants in the lieutenant governorâ€™s post also worked part-time at other jobs (Howard Dean was a doctor while being lieutenant governor and Doug Racine helped with his familyâ€™s South Burlington auto dealership, to name two). But he makes two valid points: the positionâ€™s salary has been raised significantly since Dubie became Lt. Gov., and, more importantly, he wants to serve the state full-time because he believes there is more than enough work to do to help Vermont and Vermonters grow and prosper in the new economy.
â€œThe current lieutenant governor has decided that in spite of the fact he gets $61,000 in taxpayer money â€” nearly double the average wage of a Vermonter â€” that he doesnâ€™t have to show up more than one-third of the time,â€? Dunne told the Independent in a Monday interview. â€œTo me, thatâ€™s not in keeping with Vermontersâ€™ expectation that someone is going to work hard on their behalf â€¦ Iâ€™m running for this office because I would love nothing more than to get up every single day to work on behalf of Vermonters to take on these complex problems that donâ€™t fit into one committee or another.â€?
Dunne, who was first elected to the Legislature at 22 and is now 36, is not only an intellectual powerhouse on a host of policy issues, heâ€™s also eager to help lead the state into the new economy with the promise of good-paying jobs and sustainable growth. He says Vermont is at an economic crossroad (see the full interview on Page 1A) and asks the question: â€œDo we want to become a park for retired, affluent people, or will we become a center for innovation where young people will be able to create and have jobs to compete in the global market?â€? His intention, if elected, would be to work hard to help create those new jobs.
But forget, for the moment, any policy issue â€” just on his work ethic, high energy and solid community values, his candidacy is exciting and inspiring; and he has a point about that $61,000 salary.
Angelo S. Lynn