The following seven questions, along with a requested word limit, were asked of each local candidate for the Vermont House.
The questions are not repeated in the context of each candidate’s response, but are recalled by subject at the beginning of each answer.
Election Day is Nov. 4.
1) HEALTHCARE: The state’s Catamount Health plan is up and running, are you satisfied that it is meeting its goals and, if not, what additional steps should the state take to expand health care coverage? (Maximum 150 words.)
2) ELECTRICITY: The expiration of Vermont’s contracts with its two big electricity providers, Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee, is looming. And there are concerns about re-licensing Yankee. What should Vermont do to meet its energy needs? (150 words.)
3) AGRICULTURE: What state-level supports and policies regarding family farms would you promote as a legislator? (150 words.)
4) PROPERTY TAXES: The idea of a property tax cap to limit the rise in school spending has been suggested, but such reductions in funds could diminish the quality of education in our schools over time. How do you solve that dilemma? (150 words.)
5) HEATING: Vermonters are worried about how they will pay to heat their homes and gas up their cars this winter. What can the Legislature and state government do to help? (150 words.)
6) ECONOMY: State government is cutting back as tax revenues fall short of expectations. What can state government do to improve the Vermont economy? (150 words.)
7) SINGLE ISSUE: Discuss an issue of importance to you that you would work to address if elected. (100 words.)
The four candidates running for the two seats in the Addison-3 House district — which includes Vergennes, Addison, Panton, Waltham and Ferrisburgh — are Greg Clark, Diane Lanpher, Kitty Oxholm and Jean Richardson.
HEALTHCARE: Access to health care for all Vermonters is the final goal. Catamount Health makes health care coverage available and affordable to uninsured and underinsured Vermonters. It is a beginning and we should be proud of the efforts.
Catamount Health is up and running, and provides access to health insurance to a select group of Vermonters previously not able to purchase coverage. However, many are still not able to participate and it does not address the changes needed within the illness system of care.
Preventing illness is cost effective and healthier. Sustainable health care throughout a lifetime provides a consistent better quality of life. I am concerned for Vermont’s young graduates entering the workforce. They often carry heavy student loans; these loans are not options and simply prevent many from purchasing health coverage with Catamount, as seen reflected in the lower enrollment of youth recently released by Catamount. I look forward to working on ways to address this gap in providing coverage at an affordable cost for area youth.
To apply direct and learn more with the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security Education Fund : www.catamounthealth.org or call 866-482-4723.
ELECTRICITY: It is true that in a few years Vermont’s contracts with Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee will expire and there will be change no matter what the decisions.
I believe Vermont has what is necessary to move toward independence. Energy independence. There is nothing impacting our way of life, our economy, our quality of life, and our environment more significantly then this topic. We must lead.
Renewable energy is here, waiting for Vermont to develop into an industry. Our money is flying out of Vermont. I believe those funds can be redirected back into our local community and economy. Government, industry and communities must partner in a positive manner to assure a bright future for Vermont. I support the development of wind, solar, hydro and bio fuels for a future that is self sustainable and self reliant.
Whether contracts are renewed or not the question is still the same. What should Vermont do to meet its energy need?
AGRICULTURE: In Vermont, farming means much more than just business, we see it as vitally important to our identity. Once again agriculture is going to become the key to our self reliant future. Food and Fuel are at the heart of agriculture and landscapes of beauty are the resulting picture.
I believe in a sustainable local agricultural economy that promotes and practices “Buying Local” while participating on a global scale. I support when and where available, financial incentives to assist with advancements that bring increased profitability to the agricultural industry.
Long-term policies are also needed. I would support legislation that promotes and makes available strong education opportunities for current and future farmers. Support of a Vermont seal branding our diary product, for the purpose of consumers identification of local products is worthy of discussion. Farming is a business and efforts to advance the workforce through education are the keys to its future.
PROPERTY TAXES: Property taxes and education funding continue to be very serious issues for many of the citizens I have spoken with. I believe Vermonters expect an equal educational opportunity for children and afford to live in their homes.
School boards in our district work hard to maintain a budget that balances the needs of our children with the economic surroundings of our community. It is because of this diligence that school budgets are passed with community support.
I believe property taxes can to be contained. I would be cautious of any strategy that presented a simple budget cut without giving significant consideration to the ultimate impact on our children. Any caps blind to impact does not serve our community.
I support efforts that utilize technologies that expand learning which maximize distance learning. Our future classrooms cannot be designed from outdated formulas. Expanding and enhancing learning opportunities need not put anyone out of their home.
HEATING: I was very concerned at the start of this race regarding the conditions this coming winter will have on all of us. Fuel prices soaring and our dependence on oil.
Hundreds of millions of our dollars are spent on fuel. The first step is always to conserve what you have and I believe this applies to both our heat and our dollars.
The All Fuels Efficiency Bill will assist Vermonters with conserving going forward much like the efforts achieved with the acclaimed work of Efficiency Vermont. I supported this legislation and look forward to its successes.
It is from your driveways, while visiting nearly 2,900 homes, that my concerns lessen to an extent. You showed me your resilience. We talked while stacking bags of pellets and loads of wood. We talked of the many other fuels found from local sources. You showed me your electric cars, wind towers and solar panels. You care about your neighbors and what their needs may be. I saw real positive reaction occurring to an energy crisis and I am inspired.
ECONOMY: Taxes are the means we use to gather our resources so they can be used in a manner that reflects the kind of community we wish to live. Vermont’s funding decisions must reflect the kind of people we are and the kind of community we wish to shape.
Our elected legislative body gives shape to this community with their decisions. Much care needs to be taken on behalf of those who have little voice and the middle classes burden to shoulder so much of the weight.
State spending is in itself an economic entity and reductions impact the economy and create gaps in services. These gaps cause pressures, especially on Municipalities and their budgets, as I have seen from the Council seat in Vergennes.
I believe Vermont can best serve its economic growth by retaining as much as possible the funds it already spends. I support steps to conserve, followed by investments that create opportunities for continued economic insulation.
SINGLE ISSUE: I am committed to our district and the desires of the people living in Addison-3. Committed to a positive position that will pass legislation that will achieve a renewable energy future that includes wind, solar, bio-mass, and hydro while protecting our working landscapes from sprawl so we can continue to have abundant agricultural land and forests to log, hunt and hike, as well as ensuring that Vermonters have clean water to fish in and drink from for generations. I am pleased to have the endorsement of the Vermont League of Conservation voters. There is much to be done in Montpelier.
It matters who you vote for!