Add-4 Candidate Mari Cordes Q & A
HEALTH CARE: The ACA/Vermont Health Connect increases health coverage complexity and expense for many Vermonters. We need a publicly financed and administered system with transparent government regulation and community input. Medicare is effective; let’s incrementally enhance and expand it to all. Start with Universal Primary Care, which saves money by keeping people out of the ED and hospital and encouraging low-cost prevention and health promotion. Let’s make our healthcare system about actual health — not about profits for private insurers and big pharma. Healthcare providers in partnership with their patients should determine needed care and this care should always be accessible to all.
SCHOOLS: Nationally, Vermont ranks at the bottom in state support for higher education. We have some of the highest in-state tuition and student debt in the country. Nevertheless, Vermont is not being emptied of young potential. Contrary to fear-mongering, data shows equal levels of migration to and from Vermont, evenly distributed county to county. To retain and support our young people, we must invest in a robust statewide workforce development infrastructure and fund two years of public higher education for all Vermonters. We can finance these investments by asking large corporations and banks to pay their fair share of taxes.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Since the Wall Street crash, 58 percent of all new income in our country has gone to the 1 percent. Vermont is not immune to this growing income inequality. Years of tax breaks to large corporations did not result in job creation but instead reduced state revenue, leaving Vermonters squabbling over the limited funds available for education and public services. It has been proven that investing in workforce development, state infrastructure, and education produces not only new jobs, but jobs with dignified and livable wages. These good jobs translate to reduced need for public services and greater purchasing power, which allows Vermonters to support our amazing local producers and businesses.
Our future looks promising if we continue to follow innovative practices already in place, including Farm to Table, School, and Hospital. We must make useful regulations less burdensome and support expanding local/ regional market opportunities and distribution for small businesses.
OPIATE ADDICTION: As a nurse, I confront this crisis every day. I see its profound impact on people with addictions and their family and communities. Addiction is a complex public health issue touching us all. I will collaborate with healthcare professionals and advocates who are implementing innovative and effective community programs and treatment. I will encourage the UVM Medical Center to continue its leadership in this area (like its DayOne program) and invest excess revenue in timely access to non-profit treatment programs. Finally, we must make primary care — a key point of entry into addiction and mental health services — available to all.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Contentious debate cannot hold up progress on the urgent need to address climate change. We must move swiftly toward energy independence and achieving critical energy goals. At the same time, we must ensure that towns have direct involvement in and oversight of the planning and implementation of energy projects. Act 174 brought us closer to balancing these two imperatives. We must allow time for this law to work and continually evaluate town and regional progress. We also need to reevaluate the appointment process for the Public Service Board to ensure adequate representation of the people and communities it serves.
AGRICULTURE: As a former organic farmer, this issue is close to my heart. Many farmers have worked successfully to mitigate phosphorus runoff. These farmers should have direct input in transparent agricultural policymaking, and I will engage their expertise. We must also address residential and urban runoff. Our state needs to proactively prevent and stop municipal and private raw sewage lake spills. I will continue to support and collaborate with the ANR Clean Water Initiative and ACORN. I will also work with leaders on watershed preservation, like Lake Champlain International, Addison County Riverwatch, Lewis Creek Association, and Addison County Regional Planning Commission.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Vermont’s excessive reliance on incarceration is inequitable and fails to improve public safety. Those from poverty, with mental health needs or addiction struggles, and females and/or people of color are disproportionally involved with the criminal justice system. We can do better. We must move to a system of restorative justice. We must increase vocational and higher educational opportunities to move people into jobs with livable wages instead of criminal activity. We must increase access to high-quality addiction and mental health treatment. Additionally, the Federal Justice Department showed leadership in ending its use of private prisons; Vermont needs to follow suit.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: Yes.