For decades now in the Legislature, Vince Illuzzi has sniffed out controversies and issues. He has championed many causes on behalf of Vermonters.
Illuzzi has had to be part of the action, whether it was throwing support behind projects for his constituents in the Northeast Kingdom, or around Windsor County, in greater Rutland or across central Vermont.
The Democrat-Republican from Newport has made a name for himself as a crafty and clever politician. No one can honestly accuse Illuzzi of being an ideologue: He has proven, repeatedly over 32 years as a lawmaker, that he does not need money or people to take action. He will make “it” happen regardless.
Illuzzi, a state’s attorney in Essex County, is one of a kind in Montpelier.
Certainly, as chairman of both the Senate Institutions and the Senate Housing and Economic Development committees, Illuzzi has ruffled feathers in his efforts to elicit results and has made both panels marquee committees in the Legislature. Meanwhile, as a member of the Appropriations, Judiciary and Agriculture committees in the Senate, Illuzzi has had a front-row seat to the oversight of much of state government, including the state auditor’s office.
That insider knowledge has served him well. He believes the time has come to use what he has learned over decades of networking, watching and studying.
Today, it seems only fitting that someone who has spent his career working on behalf of the widest spectrum of Vermonters, regardless of party affiliations, should seek a statewide office whose charge it is to seek out inefficiencies and accurately measure efficiencies across state government.
His opponent, Doug Hoffer, a policy analyst for the last 19 years, argues that Illuzzi is known for seeking publicity rather than thoroughly examining problems in a methodical manner before making tangible recommendations. Hoffer maintains that any approach less than methodical and thorough is not in the best interest of Vermont taxpayers.
Certainly, those are worthy concerns, as is the fact Illuzzi has twice had his license to practice law suspended for ethics violations.
But now, in the face of ever-tightening state budgets, we believe it is time to let Illuzzi loose to see what he can do to make a more efficient, streamlined government.
Illuzzi acknowledges that, as auditor, he will have the sway he feels he needs to kick over rocks effectively and make recommendations on where waste is rampant and streamlining is necessary. In his own campaign materials, Illuzzi maintains, “It’s a position that drives government improvement. I want to improve the performance of government, and the lives of working Vermonters.”
Illuzzi is not a traditional “numbers guy” by profession. His background is as a lawyer. Slipping into the state auditor’s role will require a learning curve, and perhaps some whiplash in having to keep tabs on the office’s constitutional duties that have been outsourced in recent years. But, without question, Illuzzi is a man of action, with deep ties to high-profile projects around Vermont, including the Barre Opera House, the Vermont Granite Museum, and the Paramount Theater in Rutland, as well as the state office buildings in Rutland and Bennington. He is a political machine, and he remains a publicity hound.
But at a time when Vermonters are expecting more to be done with less, it makes sense for someone who knows the process behind the legislative process, the key players of the administration, and the role of the auditor’s office to be the lightning rod and spokesman for some of the corners of government that need attention.
Vince Illuzzi knows where to look, and he’s not afraid to do so.MORE IN Editorials
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