BERLIN — Members of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, like many others, have a sharp interest in the current statewide and legislative elections. The outcome of these races will determine the direction policy leaders will be steering the state for the next two years. Many of their actions will be felt for years to come.
In an effort to inform our members of positions staked out by legislative candidates, we recently sent a survey via SurveyMonkey to people seeking legislative office in Washington and Orange counties. The results were amazing, to say the least. These were not “Yes/No” or “True/False” questions. The survey required a more detailed response to several questions. Our intention, as stated in the invitation to take the survey, was to share the responses with our members in an effort to help them make an informed decision when voting on Nov. 6.
The questions were open-ended and did not guide respondents to a particular answer. The questions were:
— What do you propose to contain the cost of government that will have a minimal effect on the delivery of services and avoid tax increases?
— Vermont must replace 11,000 jobs per year simply to maintain the current workforce. What actions do you support to expand workforce opportunities for Vermonters and encourage economic growth?
— What should Vermont do to attract new business investment in the state that will result in new job creation, higher wages and improved economic opportunity for all?
— What specific education finance reforms do you support that will provide Vermont students with opportunities for educational excellence without over-burdening taxpayers?
— What do you see as the most critical challenge to growing Vermont’s economy and how do you propose to overcome that challenge?
— Vermont is under U.S. EPA requirements to clean up Lake Champlain specifically by reducing phosphorus runoff that causes toxic algae blooms. The estimated cost for Vermont’s share of the cleanup is $25 million per year for the next 20 years. How should Vermont finance the clean up?
— What changes to Act 250 would you support that will allow for reasonable development while still protecting Vermont’s environment?
We received 10 responses to the survey from the 38 candidates. I did receive an email from Rep. Janet Ancel stating that she has a long-standing policy of letting her record speak for itself and chooses not to respond to surveys. I appreciate, understand and thanked her for a very prompt and honest response. Public officials are inundated with survey requests.
There was a final question and it was not open-ended. It was a very simple “Name of candidate.” Only two of the respondents, incumbent Sen. Anthony Pollina and challenger Barry Wadle answered the questions. I thanked both for taking the time to respond and for sharing their views on the issues.
All 10 respondents gave very good answers to the questions posed and show a clear dichotomy in thinking and points of view. As one who follows public policy and spends time at the State House, I think I can discern what the political persuasion of the candidates might be. However, I have no clue as to where eight of the surveys originated.
The election is weeks away. Be sure that you are registered to vote. Attend candidate forums. Ask the candidates where they stand on specific issues that concern you. Be sure to vote. You can’t criticize the results if you don’t vote.
William D. Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.