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Editorial: The smart move for Shap

In politics, sometimes a step back is the right move.
House Speaker Shap Smith’s decision to run for Lt. Governor takes him out of the gubernatorial race that many political observers hoped he might rejoin, but will allow him valuable time to gain perspective and use the Lieutenant Governor’s office, if elected, to formulate state policy in ways that neither a governor, House Speaker or Senate president pro tempore have the time to explore. That’s an exciting prospect at a time when Vermont, as with most rural states, is facing significant changes in our economy and lifestyle choices of a younger demographic.
Among those challenges outlined by Smith in a recent interview (see story on Page 1A) are finding ways to build affordable housing; creating and finding jobs for the thousands of young college students who graduate each year from Vermont colleges; revitalizing our downtowns to make urban housing options more readily available to millenials; continuing to push for a pay-for-performance-based health care outcomes, rather than pay-for-service, to get a handle on the rising costs of health care; resolving the current failure of the state’s policy on marijuana prohibition with some solution that regulates the product, taxes it, and brings it under state control like alcohol sales, while managing potential problems that may cause. These, and others, are long-term issues that could benefit from a long-term discussions from forums held around the state.
With Smith’s 14 years of experience in the House, the past six of which were as House Speaker, he’s in a ideal position to lead those discussions, develop policy ideas and help build consensus on them. That’s using the lieutenant’s governor’s position to move the state forward, rather than other approaches that appear to be more self-serving.
Smith’s vision of the job could vary significantly with his challengers, which will make the primary (against Rep. Kesa Ram, D-Burlington, and Progressive David Zuckerman, Hinesburg) and the general election against Republican Randy Brock all the more interesting. If he wins, the move will keep Smith near the top of state government, and that’s a welcome development for those who think he remains one of the brightest stars in the Democratic Party.
Angelo S. Lynn

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