Add-1 Candidate Amy Sheldon Q & A

HEALTH CARE: Health insurance costs drive our public and private budgets. I am committed to finding a fiscally responsible way to a single payer health care system that is focused on health outcomes. I am looking forward to learning more about the primary care for all proposal that will come before the legislature this session.
VHC was a herculean undertaking. Our economy is undergoing a major change regarding data management and on-line interfaces that both the private and public sectors are struggling to incorporate. In the future, we need to be thorough in our assessment of how complex an IT undertaking is.
SCHOOLS: I believe that education targeted to a specific person’s strengths and interests holds the key to plugging into the rapidly changing economy — when you can add value you will get paid. In Vermont, average student debt is around $23,000 and the average increase in annual wages that comes from a four-year degree is $11,000 so over a lifetime of working, it still pays to go to college. We need to empower our students early to plan for their future by connecting them to different professions throughout their school years and educating them on how to economically achieve their goals.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: We are uniquely situated to be a sustainable community: one that promotes the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Deep, broad economic prosperity will come to us if we confidently invest in who we are and do not try to repeat what others have done in other parts of the state or country. By nurturing businesses that are here and fostering creative entrepreneurs who see our potential, we will build a solid, sustainable economy based on our healthy environment and quality of life. It’s time for us to have an open, transparent, community discussion to define our collective vision for our local economy and then develop a plan of action with measurable goals to implement that plan. A logical next step is to consider joining regional planning with economic development.
OPIATE ADDICTION: We need to focus our efforts on prevention through continued education and regulation and supporting treatment, like our own Turning Point Center. The legislature recently directed the DOH to come up with best practices for prescription of opiates. We need to continue to draw attention to the issue and support doctors who are treating addiction and be open to innovative solutions. For example, there is growing evidence that marijuana can help people to transition away from opiates. I also believe that the drug companies who profit from this epidemic need to be held accountable for their role in it.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Climate change is the single biggest challenge we face today and Vermont has come a long way toward creating a renewable energy sector that will help us move away from fossil fuel based energy. The change from large power plants to small, distributed power generation has not always been smooth. Creating a renewable energy standard for Vermont and enabling towns to have more authority in the siting process are positive changes that we incorporated last session. We need to take time to let these changes unfold knowing that we are in an iterative process that may need changes in the future.
AGRICULTURE: Agriculture is fundamental to our identity and invaluable to our economy. Diversification of our agricultural sector, led by hard working, innovative, entrepreneurial farmers and producers, is fueling a local foods movement that is inspiring the nation, feeding many Vermonters and spreading out of State. At the same time, we have a dairy industry that has been struggling for decades with low milk prices, over production and increased scrutiny for water quality protection. Many of these dairy farmers are looking to retire in the coming decade. We need to increase our investment in research and development of alternative agricultural products, create a transition planning structure for farmers looking to retire and provide funding for dairy farms to transition to grass-fed organic.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: In a nation governed by the rule of law, having laws that we do not abide by undermines the fabric of our society. With 80,000 Vermonters using marijuana monthly, it is time to line up our words and our deeds and regulate the sale and use of it. I would prefer it if happened nationally, but we know that it often takes leadership from the states to spur the feds into action. Specifically, I would support legislation that: allowed for home grow of two plants; allowed small producers to enter the market; and allowed for outdoor growing.

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