Candidate Q&A: Millard Cox
ADDISON COUNTY — All of Addison County’s incumbent state senators and representatives will run for re-election Nov. 3. Addison-2 Rep. Peter Conlon is the only one running unopposed. But Millard Cox of Ripton has mounted a write-in campaign. We asked him to answer the same questions we asked the other candidates.
Addison-2 encompasses the towns of Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton, and Salisbury. The questions and Cox’s answers follow:
1) Economy. Vermont faces a multi-front threat to its economic wellbeing, including slow sales in many sectors and high unemployment due to the coronavirus. But Vermont has long struggled to attract and retaining enough businesses that provide good-paying jobs, which some argue lead to the state’s stagnant population and a declining younger demographic. If elected, what measures would you propose to bolster Vermont’s economy?
1. COX: Vermont’s economy is locked into the American economic system which both gives and withholds. A small percentage of Americans become extravagantly wealthy, but wealth is withheld from most of the working population and an underclass living in chronic poverty. The wealthy control the government and continue withholding wealth through the constraint of livable wages, workers’ benefits, the right of workers to organize unions and collectively bargain, and access to higher education and healthcare. The economy will improve for Vermont when the federal government is taken from control by the wealthy and is returned to the working people of America and Vermont.
Meanwhile, Vermont’s government can improve broadband and cell phone service everywhere in Vermont so people can create businesses and work remotely. Vermont can further subsidize the manufacture and installation of solar collectors. The construction of affordable housing everywhere in Vermont could increase business and jobs and attract young families.
2. School outcomes. What will you do to help schools improve the way they provide Vermont children (and adults) the skills needed to fill jobs, or create jobs, in the state?
2. COX: Education outcomes will improve when we end child poverty. Child poverty in this state and nation is an abomination, creating anxiety, depression, anger and poor health in children, inhibiting their capacity to thrive, develop, and learn. We know this, and yet we fail to address it economically and politically. We must have the courage to abolish poverty.
We need an innovation in public education. Vocational education should be expanded in middle and high school. All students need to have opportunities to experience a variety of careers either as apprentices or mentees. Academic studies should be coordinated to apply to these career experiences. Requirements for licensing of public school teachers need to be raised to the Ph.D. level. The skills necessary for public school educators are now so complex as to require nothing less. Students need expanded medical services and psychological counseling within the public school setting.
School consolidation: How should/can state officials work to maintain, or consolidate, small schools, and what are the costs and benefits of maintaining, or consolidating, our school districts?
3. COX: The state has become autocratic in attempting to control the cost of public education. Small towns with small schools are blamed for high educational costs. However, the problem with education costs is not that there are too many small schools. The problem is that there are too few children. Rather than attracting more young families to our state and retaining the young families we already have, the state is closing small schools, which will not encourage young families to come to Vermont or remain here. Small schools in small towns are one of the best features of Vermont. The state needs to allow formerly independent town elementary districts to continue to run and fund their own schools. If a town school closes or consolidates, it should be the choice of the people of the town. The state needs to re-examine its system of school funding and exploit additional sources of funding.
4. Environment. There is a lot to address here: water quality, climate change, protecting open land. As a lawmaker, what areas of the environment would you put your energies toward and why?
4. COX: We know from this pandemic that Nature is willing to kill us off. If we sufficiently abuse the natural world we evolved from, we will cause our own extinction. Our awareness of this is of paramount importance. We are all in this together. The state has created incentives for Vermonters to install solar collectors and purchase electric cars because it is important to reduce CO2 emissions, but this is difficult when many Vermonters make their living with large machines using fossil fuels. They should not have to bear increased fuel taxes until battery-powered heavy machinery becomes available. Water quality is a primary concern, but can we expect farmers to bear that cost? What I think is needed to save our environment is a nation-wide federal and state initiatives like the moon landing project of the 1960s that can bring together the skills and resources that are beyond any individual state.
5. Health care. Vermonters have bemoaned the high cost of medical care and health preventive maintenance for a long time. What existing public policies would you support, what new policies would you push to institute, and what would you abandon?
5. COX: My health care thoughts align with those of Bernie Sanders. Establish Medicare for all: tax-funded, free access to health care for all Vermonters. Coverage should include vision, hearing and dental. Access to mental health services, to substance abuse treatment, reproductive care and prescription medications will be without charge. No private health insurance premiums will be required to receive health care, and there will be no deductibles or co-payments.
6. Agriculture. Most Vermonters don’t live on farms, but we all enjoy the benefits of living in a farming community. How are we going to support this industry? What existing laws need to be changed and what new ones need to be introduced? Who pays?
6. COX: We need the farmers; the farmers need us. If agriculture collapses, we starve. Again, the imbalances in the American economy come into play. Too much wealth is controlled by too few people. The dairy industry in Vermont needs support because what can be earned from milk products does not always cover the costs of farming. Diversity in the use of farmland has been encouraging. Another encouraging development has been the conversion of manure into electric power and gardening products on some farms. I think the state has done well in encouraging this diversity and creativity. I believe that Vermonters should make the effort to purchase as many locally grown farm products as we can, and that the grocers in Vermont should make Vermont products readily and abundantly available to shoppers. The state should make every effort to improve export opportunities for Vermont farm products.
7. CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Comment on the topic of your choice.
7. COX: A vote for me is a vote of protest to send a message to the Addison Central Supervisory Board and to the state government.
• The disenfranchisement of small towns who lack adequate representation in the school district and in state government;
• Forcing small towns to consolidate by closing their schools and denying the right of small towns to vote for or in opposition to school closure;
• At-large voting, which in the ACSD means domination by the largest town over the six small towns.
• At-large voting, which denies towns the right to elect their own representative to the Board.