Editorial: Phil Scott for Lt. Governor
In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Phil Scott stands out as an independent thinker, a man of integrity, a competitor on anything with wheels that goes fast, and as sincere and nice a guy as you’re likely to find on the campaign trail.
Born and raised in Barre by his father, who had lost both his legs on D-Day, he learned early on how to rely on his own abilities, as well as to take responsibility for others when he could.
From that background he honed a political philosophy that can be boiled down to an overarching theme: self-reliance and community.
An example of that philosophy can be seen through the Wheels for Warmth program, which he initiated six years ago. The program gets central Vermonters to donate tires they no longer need but that still meet state inspection standards. The tires are sold for a maximum of $15 each, with all proceeds going to support Central Vermont Community Action Council’s emergency and supplemental fuel assistance program. The tires that don’t pass inspection get recycled by Casella Waste Management for $4 each, of which all the money goes to the regional home heating program.
“It’s a great example,” he says, “of how we can help others without waiting for the government to intervene, or without raising taxes to expand another government program.” To date, the program has raised over $100,000 for emergency fuel assistance, recycled 10,000 tires and extended the life of another 6,000 tires — “all this,” he says, “without a single grant or piece of legislation.”
But that’s getting ahead of the story. He knew early on that he liked two things: wheels and anything that went fast. Not unusual, then, that he got into racing at the age of 16 at Thunder Road in Barre working on the teams of top drivers. But while he is now known as the “Flying Senator” to stock car racing fans (he has the most wins as a late model driver in Thunder Road history), he got his start racing snowmobiles as a nationally ranked Formula 1 driver for Ski-Doo and Bombardier, recording victories in national championship events throughout the United States and Canada.
By the time he turned 32, family and work kept him closer to home, so he took up racecar driving at Thunder Road, racking up 22 career wins since, as well as other championships, including the American Canadian Tour. If you’re not into car racing and those accomplishments fall somewhat flat, know that he is also an avid bicyclist, putting about 5,000 miles on his road bike each summer.
What’s impressive, of course, is the drive such accomplishments require and getting a glimpse of the very intensely personal place from which it springs. He is a man of grit and determination, with just enough humility to keep him honest and sincere.
A graduate from Spaulding High School in 1976 and UVM in 1980 with a BS in science, he currently lives in Middlesex, the father of two daughters and, as he says, a spoiled golden retriever.
He started in the construction industry at 18, working the summers for DuBois Construction Inc. in Middlesex, while attending UVM. A decade later, he and Don DuBois were co-owners, running the day-to-day activities of the heavy construction business that specializes in site work, road construction, and water, sewer and buried cable utility installation. Those years of practical knowledge in the construction and transportation industries have been a real asset to his understanding of the work faced in the Senate Institutions Committee, where he has been chairman for the past few years, as well as vice-chairman of the Transportation Committee. Among his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle, he is known as a “common sense” leader.
As lieutenant governor, some of the policies he will champion may differ from what we generally support, but his approach is based on pragmatic considerations, not ideologically — and that’s something that’s always welcome in Montpelier.
As importantly, he would act as a balance to a Democratic Legislature and a potential Democratic administration — not as someone to obstruct progress, but as a voice to balance both sides of each issue. Finally, he is someone voters can trust to act in the best interests of all Vermonters without a personal agenda of his own.
Democrat Steve Howard, on the other hand, has a ready answer for almost all issues: raise taxes on business and the rich to support programs for those in need. His perspective is sincere and worthy, but too simplistic to be practical or desirable. There is a limit to effective taxation, just as there is a limit to government spending. A self-professed political junkie since his mid-20s and a partisan through-and-through, Howard’s votes on the issues may not be that much different from rank-and-file Democrats in the Legislature, but his rhetoric would be more inflammatory and his agenda as lieutenant governor would be to turn to social programs at a time when restraint and fiscal prudence — and thinking outside the box, like Scott’s Wheels for Warmth campaign — is what is needed in Montpelier.
The contrast between the two candidates couldn’t be starker. Vote Phil Scott for lieutenant governor.
Angelo S. Lynn