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Emily Peyton hopes to shake up GOP primary

MIDDLEBURY — Emily Peyton of Putney makes no apologies for having never run for an elected position less lofty than that of governor.
“If the ship is headed up for an iceberg, why sign up for the crew?” the erstwhile independent candidate asked, rhetorically, with a smile on Tuesday while discussing her third try at Vermont’s top executive post.
“I think we need a new direction.”
She also makes no apologies for making this, her third bid for the top job, as a Republican — in spite of the fact that several of her positions diverge sharply from the GOP platform. For example, Peyton believes citizens should be able to freely grow marijuana, insists the state is spending too much on corrections, and is dead-set against the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project.
“I’ve done my best to challenge the political system,” Peyton said, touting herself as the only woman in this year’s gubernatorial race, her “collaborative spirit,” and her disdain for party politics.
Peyton, 56, is a videographer and self-described musician, artist and “advocate for environmental stewardship.” She often adds the letters A.o.F. beside her name, an acronym she said stands for “Ambassador of Freedom” or “Ambassador of Fun.” She is involved in a GOP Primary this Aug. 26 that includes Steve Berry of Wolcott and Scott Milne of Pomfret.
She insisted that her inclusion on this year’s Republican primary ballot is not a stretch.
“If the Republicans’ aim is to decrease bureaucracy in government, I can do that much better than the other candidates available,” she said.
Peyton believes the state can reduce its bureaucracy in part by dramatically shifting the way it deals with low-income citizens and those accused of crimes.
For example, she believes drug addicts should be given treatment instead of jail time for certain drug-related offenses. This, she said, would reduce corrections bureaucracy and give addicts the help they need to stem potential repeat offenses.
Peyton supports what she called a “perma-farm policy,” through which homesteads of 2.5 to 3 acres would be forgiven property taxes as long as the property owners agree to cultivate on-site crops in a sustainable way. She also believes people should be able to use bartering in payment of their tax obligations.
“Our government is now using its sensitive population to create a bountiful bureaucracy,” Peyton said. “I think that’s immoral and wrong.”
The resulting crops, Peyton believes, would bolster the local foods movement and in turn help the environment through less importation of foods.
One of Peyton’s top priorities would be to create a “State Reserve Bank,” which she said would strengthen Vermont’s economy and protect it from recessions that influence the private banking system.
“We need a better monetary system,” said Peyton, who believes Vermont should no longer contract for out-of-state services and compared the flow of currency in the state to the flow of blood through a human body.
Peyton said she opposes current state and federal health care reform efforts. The Vermont Legislature is currently pursuing a single-payer health system. Peyton would instead like to see Vermont devise a different kind of system that she did not specify, one that is rooted in compassion and stresses maintaining a healthy lifestyle to avoid more costly medical intervention later in life.
“We need to reward and encourage good health practices, while recognizing the importance of a clean environment and a (local) food diversity future,” she said.
On the subject of education, Peyton is opposed to federal mandates on public school curricula and said Vermont should be encouraged to establish independent schools to promote independent thought.
She is a big proponent of re-establishing hemp as an agricultural crop in Vermont and throughout the country.
“If there had never been (hemp) prohibition, we would have an industry as extensive and expansive as our wood industries,” Peyton said.
Peyton is a vocal opponent of all proposed phases of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, which calls for a pipeline to be extended from Colchester to Middlebury and also from Middlebury to the International Paper Co. in Ticonderoga, N.Y. Peyton believes society should not advocate for more fossil fuels infrastructure. She said fossil fuels are destined to run out and are bad for people’s health.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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