Governor Jim Douglas announced Aug. 21 in Montpelier that he will not seek a fifth term in office.
I want to thank all of you for coming this morning.
I especially want to thank the members of my Administration for being here, as well as
Since January 1973, after I was first elected to the Vermont House, I’ve been making the
trip over the Appalachian Gap from my home in Middlebury to serve the people in
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I’ve traversed that pass at all hours, in all seasons, through rain, snow and sun. On a clear
day, I can look west over the Champlain basin and east toward the Connecticut River
valley, out across the breadth of this place that is like no other. And each time I reach the
top, I am reminded of the sturdy shoulders of our people – as strong and as solid as the
hills – and my hope for Vermont is renewed.
Through my years in public service, I have had the great opportunity to share with my
fellow Vermonters their proud achievements and the joys of daily life in Vermont: the
opening of a new business in St. Johnsbury, pancakes with little leaguers in Starksboro,
celebrating our traditions with farmers and sugarmakers at Dairy Days and the Maple
Festival, waving the green flag at Thunder Road, and helping to welcome home a local
hero, Captain Richard Phillips.
The rewards of this job are many, like joining hands in service to help improve the lives
of our friends and neighbors: delivering meals to homebound seniors in Orange County,
celebrating National Night Out in South Burlington, marching to Prevent Child Abuse in
Montpelier, splitting wood to heat needy homes in Springfield, or helping to load nearly
70 18-wheelers with donated goods bound for the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of
And it’s an honor to be with Vermonters during their times of trial and hardship: touring
the devastations from floods, storms and fires, meeting with employees after a plant
closure, or holding the hand of a Gold Star Mother or Wife.
These occasions have given me the opportunity to speak with Vermonters, to hear their
fears and troubles, their hopes and ideas. I’ve brought them back with me to Montpelier
– where government has responded.
We’ve charted a course for our state that will bring good job opportunities, more
affordable homes, safer communities and clean air and water.
I’ve made health care reform a priority – reaching across party lines to get the job done –
because it continues to be a burden on the pocketbooks of hard-working Vermonters. We
implemented the Blueprint for Health to help people lead healthier lives and reduce
health care costs. Because of our first-of-its-kind Global Commitment waiver, we are a
leader in forward-thinking, innovative health system reform. And Catamount Health is
bringing health care within reach of more Vermonters.
As Chairman of the National Governors Association I’m taking our successes to
Washington to demonstrate how real reform can be achieved.
I’ve pushed to make higher education more affordable – through Promise Scholarships
and the Next Generation Initiative – so young people can go to school here, lead the next
wave of innovation in our state and create new economic opportunities.
A steady and reliable infrastructure is essential if we are going to compete in a changing
economy. The e-State initiative will ensure that all Vermonters have access to broadband
and cell service. And our efforts to increase and target investments in our roads, rails,
bridges and culverts have been critical.
The actions we’ve taken to prevent and treat drug abuse; combat sexual violence; and
support law enforcement, fire fighters, first responders and other public safety
professionals, are making our communities safer.
I am proud to carry on Vermont’s long-held commitment to our environment. We’ve
taken bold steps to clean up Lake Champlain and other impaired waterways. We’ve
fought to keep our air clean, even if it meant fighting Washington and the automobile
industry on emissions standards. We were a leader in the Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative, because passing along a healthy environment to the next generation requires
reaching outside our borders and working with our neighbors in the region and, indeed,
around the world.
And I’ve fought to hold the line on taxes and spending, so that we can sustain the
necessary functions of government for future generations and encourage new economic
opportunities. Fiscal responsibility is at the core of the Vermont ethic – as we face
budget challenges resulting from the global recession, Vermonters deserve to see their
money spent wisely and their government managed efficiently.
There is no doubt that over the past seven years we have accomplished much. We’ve seen
this state through some tough times in our nation’s history – and I will continue to work
day and night so that we emerge stronger than before.
I am so proud of what we have accomplished. And yet there will always be more to do.
The work of democracy is an abiding, beautiful struggle – just as it should be. This land,
our freedom, our liberty was not easily won and so it is worth the sacrifice we must give
to maintain it. It rightly demands our hard work, perpetual motion, and an endless flow
of human energy and high ideals – the very lifeblood of the Vermont soul. All across our
state – from armories to local food pantries, from town halls to under this golden dome –
Vermonters give deeply and selflessly, each singular act of service renewing the promise
It has been the great privilege of my life to serve the people of this state that I love so
well. I have been profoundly humbled by their faith and support in me.
But as any farmer knows, after many years – working sun up to sun down, seven days a
week – there comes a time to turn over the reins to fresh arms. For me, that time is
approaching. After 36 years as a public servant, 28 of those years in statewide office,
with what will be eight years as Governor – and through 15 statewide elections – I will
have held center stage long enough for any leader. I will not seek another term as
Governor of Vermont.
My service to this state will not end with the governorship. Whether I’m in the corner
office or my home office, I will always strive to do what I can to make better this great
But I am also ready to write a new chapter in my life. When I first took my seat as the
Representative from Middlebury in 1973, I was a young man right out of college. With
some very good fortune, I met and married Dorothy, soon we were raising two
extraordinary boys, and now one of my sons has a son of his own – our first grandchild:
Timothy James Douglas. A new generation has a way of putting things into perspective.
I know there will be some speculation as to what is next, so I want to lay a few questions
to rest immediately. I am not running for President. Dorothy has a divorce lawyer on
speed dial if I ever utter that crazy idea.
I’m not running for the US Senate, the US House or any other statewide office in 2010.
However, for the next 16 months, I am running state government.
Those who presume there will be an absentee landlord in the corner office will be
mistaken. I will focus as intensely as I always do on the needs of Vermonters. And I will
continue to fight everyday to put this state on firm footing. Now is not the time to rest on
I will continue the good work that my Administration has done to advance an Agenda of
Affordability – an agenda centered on growing good-paying jobs while protecting our
cherished natural resources.
This is a historic time for our state. Vermont has been hit hard by the global recession.
Businesses, families and even state government have felt the impact of a shrinking
That is why we must act responsibly to rein in state spending to ensure that Vermonters
can continue to fund the programs and services we are all so proud to support – especially
those for the frail and neediest. In order to do that, we must build and pass budgets that
are sustainable for the long term.
I will continue to fight for working Vermonters and small business owners who struggle
to make ends meet by resisting efforts to raise taxes to grow government and increase
As I always have – but now let there be no doubt – I will fight to do what is best for
Vermont and devote my full energy to guiding this great state toward a more prosperous
At another hour, in another place, there will be plenty of time for remembrances and time
to look back. Now it is time to look ahead to the next legislative session and budget
cycle, because, as I’ve said before, the choices we make today as our state struggles
under the weight of this recession will have a lasting and real impact on how quickly we
There will also be a time and a place for the long list of thank yous, but for today, there
are just a few. My thanks to Dorothy for her love, devotion, and unconditional support
over the years.
I want to thank my Administration for your dedication to serving the public and for
making government more responsive.
I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Dubie for his friendship, support and leadership.
And to the people of Vermont, thank you for your continued confidence. I especially
want to thank of you have who have offered ideas, concerns, frustrations and
encouragement to me in my travels over the years. You have given state government a
truly people-driven direction and focus. Thank you for the tremendous privilege of
allowing me to serve.
And with that, I’d like to ask my team to “get back to work!” We’ve got a lot to do.