We are so lucky. Vermont is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet to call home, a place that we must protect and nourish. I believe that the people of Vermont are our greatest resource.
Vermonters need to always be our government’s highest priority. Traditional, cherished values have been and ought to be our philosophy of government, in keeping with the Vermont character. This is why I am a candidate for Vermont governor in 2014.
I owe a great debt to Vermont. Vermont is home to six generations of my family. Here is where I was raised, and where I have raised my family and built up the family business.
I believe that Vermont and Vermonters — today and tomorrow — will be happier and healthier with more balanced political leadership than is found in the governor’s office today. Confirmed by conversations with Vermonters of all ages, I believe a more moderate course — a less headlong march into the unknown—is needed. Do we really need to be the most radical state in the Union every day? I don’t think so. We can’t afford it.
I want to offer a more grounded alternative to the wild dreams we have experienced in that time, that seem to thrust us far ahead of the prudent, careful approach to governing that has been our philosophy for most of the state’s history. I ask others to take a look at who I am and what I believe and join me in a campaign for change in the coming elections.
A statement of principles and issues
1) I have a vision of a government with a commitment to common sense and practical thinking, that looks at issues not politics in determining policies that affect us. I think we have spent too much time promising and not enough time planning and acting than is good for us. Maybe it’s not a good idea to have the legislative and executive branches owned by the same party. There is no filter, no cooling period, between a promise and a law, and we are way out ahead of ourselves.
2) We need a government that is less centralized and more committed to allowing communities to sort out their own problems. Ideas should come from the people, not be imposed from the top. I want to return to the collaborative and practical democracy that has served Vermont so well since our inception. The best decisions are those made at the local level, on matters critical to the lives of average Vermonters.
3) A business approach to government. Vermonters do not celebrate that we have one of the highest tax rates among the states. We pay our taxes, because it is our duty, but there is a growing sense that we are committing ourselves to programs we cannot afford and taking unnecessary risks. We live in a time of rapid cultural change. We don’t need government to accelerate that change. We should be more cautious. We don’t need as much government as we can have. We would be better off with a little more freedom and a little less regulation.
4) The economy. The real test of a healthy economy is its ability to create new jobs. In April of this year, our private sector grew by 50 new jobs. This is not a record to be proud of. Young Vermonters leave the state to get good-paying jobs, and we see darker storm clouds on the horizon. Soon, without a more balanced government and a change in Vermont’s reputation among businesses, we may look back on the days when we grew our economy, by even 50 jobs, as “the good old days.” These are not rosy times. We must do more to strengthen the economy.
5) School spending. My property taxes are up more than 700 percent in 20 years, school enrollments are down, and spending continues to rise. The time has come to rethink how government funds education. It’s a hard set of choices, and a solution is elusive. The best we have come up with is the idea of eliminating 80 percent of all town school districts and local boards of education, to centralize administration, and reduce the rate of increase in the educational system. Is the loss of access to local decision-makers really the problem?
6) Health care. The administration missed its Jan. 1, 2013, deadline to reveal the financial plan for our state’s health care system, and 19 months later we are no closer to knowing how or whether it will work. The state is hiring more consultants to fix the problem, and there is no end in sight. Promises of cost savings are likely illusory. We could have improved the system we had in place. We didn’t need to experiment with replacing it with something untried, and beyond our reach.
These and other issues will be the theme of the 2014 campaign for governor. I intend to address them in more detail as the campaign continues.
My candidacy is understated, understaffed, and underfunded, but that does not worry me. I know the odds. I know my opponent, because I have seen his record. I don’t have a good sense of comfort or faith that this administration knows what it is doing or even knows when to stop. I miss the steady hand of Governors Davis, Snelling, Dean, and Douglas. I miss the time when I could sleep comfortably at night, knowing that the ship of state was stable. We can do better, and I believe we will do better. I hope to be part of the change that must come to ensure that time comes back.
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