Eleven candidates jockey for governor’s post

ADDISON COUNTY — The following is a series of thumbnail sketches of the gubernatorial candidates who will square off in Primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 11. 

Information was culled from the candidates’ websites, and/or other online media sources.

Candidates are profiled here in alphabetical order. Since Vermonters can vote in only one party’s Primary, we separated the candidates by party.

DEMOCRATS

Ralph Corbo, Wallingford Democrat. Corbo is a former U.S. Postal worker and an activist. In addition to running for governor, he is also challenging U.S. Rep. Peter Welch in the Aug. 1 Democrat primary for Vermont’s lone U.S. House seat.

Corbo has no campaign website. He participated in a July 21 Vermont Public Radio interview of Democrat candidates for governor. During that interview, he said (among other things):

•  “We’re going to have to do the difficult thing like Gov. Richard Snelling did back in 1990, when he instituted a progressive income tax,” Corbo said. “They raised the rate on the top 5% of the wealthiest Vermonters and were able to overcome the downturn that they were in, and that’s what needs to be done right now.”

•  “We have to stop fostering military weaponry operation factories that have tremendously toxic byproducts. We have to think outside the box and think about turning the entire economy of the state into something of a green peace economy.”

Rebecca Holcombe, Norwich Democrat. She served as Vermont’s education secretary for four years, prior to resigning in 2018 over policy differences with Gov. Phil Scott.

Campaign quote: “With my husband, I am the proud mom of two amazing young adults. I want to be able to tell them and their children that I did everything I could to help us create an economy we could sustain, in an environment we committed to maintain, so that their generation of Vermonters could live good lives, with good health, in strong communities. My greatest hope is that they will join me in paying forward the opportunities that this country gave our family.”

Website: rebeccaholcombe.com

Campaign priorities include rebuilding Vermont’s economy through sound fiscal management and investing “in strong safety nets and in programs that prevent people from needing safety nets in the first place,” investing more resources into disadvantaged communities, transitioning to a single-payer healthcare system, building a green energy economy, and guiding the state’s education system through the current COVID-19 crisis and declining enrollment.

Pat Winburn, Bennington Democrat. He’s a trial lawyer.

Campaign quote: “As a lawyer, I have seen the failings of the criminal justice system up close. Vermont is not immune to these inequalities. Our prison population is disproportionately poor and black. We must change this system and decrease our prison population. As governor, I will invest in restorative justice and try to make Vermont a national leader in the practice.”

Website: winburn2020.com

Campaign priorities include incentivizing farmers and citizens to grow more local food, passing a family leave bill, investing in more affordable housing, offering “implicit bias training” at the both the state and local government levels, and slowing climate change.

David Zuckerman, Hinesburg Democrat. He is a longtime farmer.

Zuckerman’s gubernatorial campaign was the subject of a July 23 article in the Independent. It can be found at: addisonindependent.com/news/zuckerman-seeks-promotion-governor

REPUBLICANS

Douglas Cavett, Milton Republican. He is a certified legal assistant. He is a convicted sex offender. He also lists on his résumé that he’s “Founding board member, assistant director/teacher for the Hull Crest Middle/High School, specializing in creating culturally-based curricula.”

Campaign quote: “My idea is to do something with the voting issue as I have been, and will be, pushing for this the rest of my living days.”

Website: dougcavett4vtgovernor.blogspot.com.

Cavett’s overriding campaign priority is to reform the Vermont Department of Corrections.

“If we have a limited workforce, why do we spend $63,000 per person, per year, to prevent those in corrections from becoming the entrepreneurs we so desperately need?” he writes on his website. “Why do we spend $200 million per year to increase crime?”

He also emphasizes expansion of educational opportunities.

“If we all know education is the answer to growing our economy, why do we appropriate funds away from education and into increasing the risk of crime?” he writes.

John Klar, Brookfield Republican. He’s an attorney and farmer.

Campaign quote: “(My) number one priority is to make government serve the Vermont economy, rather than siphon off wealth and opportunity to serve a runaway bureaucracy. The greatest benefit to Vermont’s economy is not more government-funded programs, ‘incentives,’ or taxes — it is for Vermonters to be liberated from such constraints to grow the Vermont economy.”

Website: klar2020.com.

Other campaign priorities include backfilling Vermont’s underfunded pension programs, increasing economic opportunity as a way to steer citizens away from drug abuse, providing tax relief to farms and incentivizing them to increase food production, and repealing Act 46, the state’s school governance consolidation law.

Bernard Peters, Irasburg Republican. He’s a retired Vermont Agency of Transportation worker.

Peters has a campaign website at facebook.com/Petersforgov, but it doesn’t provide much information about where he stands on the issues.

We found a transcript from a July 22 interview that Vermont Public Radio conducted with Peters. He told VPR he’s concerned about older Vermonters living on fixed incomes and wants to make sure the state is “job-friendly” for young people.

Campaign quote, per his interview with VPR: “I’ve always heard, ‘I work for the party.’ My belief is, when you’re elected, you’re not working for the party you’re working for the people who voted for you. You’re working for the state of Vermont to make it better.”

Peters has also gone on record as opposing gun control legislation.

Emily Peyton, Putney Republican. She’s founder/co-owner of the Hempfully Green Healing House shop.

Campaign quote: “Money should be made available to any person willing to begin a garden, expand their garden or to get serious about farming in an organic and permacultural manner.”

Website: Emilypeyton.com.

Her campaign priorities include closing the earnings gap for women, growing more food locally, and developing a new education model — a hybrid of teacher and homeschooling. Groups of school-age children would have the benefit of availability of teachers and a per-pupil budget based on schooling costs. She also believes that a home “is a matter of right,” and subscribes to the notion of “an economy that doesn’t tax the working to feed the hungry and the un-housed.”

She proposes to open a Vermont People’s Exchange “to measure and account for all the work the people of Vermont with Vermont’s resources can do within our state, leaving U.S. dollars to use for only those items we must buy out of state and for others.”

Peyton also believes Vermonters have “the right to privacy from digital data collection, from search of phones, emails, from GPS tracking.”

Phil Scott, Berlin Republican and Vermont’s two-term incumbent governor. He’s a small business co-owner (Dubois Construction) and racecar driver.

Recent quote (July 30), related to the scheduled reopening of public schools on Sept. 8: “Schools should take this extra time to make sure they — and their in-person and online solutions — are ready and effective, so we can deliver for our children, and build confidence in the public education system’s ability to be flexible and responsive.”

Scott has distinguished himself as a fiscal conservative — he’s vetoed two state budget proposals during his tenure. But he’s established himself as a moderate on social issues in what is one of the most blue states in the nation. Scott has repeatedly distanced himself from President Donald Trump and signed a series of gun safety measures during the spring of 2018 following a narrowly averted school shooting situation at Fair Haven Union High School. He has riled conservative factions of the state GOP, but has drawn kudos from moderates and many Democrats for his general stewardship of the state — particularly as it relates to the coronavirus epidemic. He was slow to come around to mail-in ballots.

Websites: Philscott.org, and governor.vermont.gov.

His campaign priorities include growing the economy, making the state more affordable, “protecting the most vulnerable,” “creating a cradle-to-career education system,” and preserving the environment.

PROGRESSIVES

Cris Ericson, Chester Progressive. She is also running for lieutenant governor.

Campaign quote: “How are we going to pay for healthcare for everyone who happens to be in the U.S. and for free college education for all of our citizens? It doesn’t matter how someone got into the U.S.; they need to be healthy. Because if they’re not healthy, their diseases could spread to us. So we need healthcare for everyone. And we need free college education, because we need to fix our economy, and we’re only going to fix our economy with free college education to get people out there and get them into new jobs.”

Ericson proposes to pay for the college tuitions and universal healthcare through a redirection of tax dollars that are currently going to support design, research and development of new prescription drugs and weapons.

Website: crisericson.wordpress.com. She’s posted several YouTube videos outlining her positions.

Boots Wardinski, Newbury Progressive. He is an organic farmer and horse logger.

Campaign quote: “The department of agriculture’s sole purpose should be to transition farming to small organic operations. Neonicotinoids, atrazine and all persistent pesticides, herbicides and fungicides should be banned.”

Wardinski is a Vietnam-era veteran and a longtime member of Veterans for Peace. He built his own home in 1983, which is off-the-grid, powered by solar-generated electricity, and heated with wood that is split by hand. Boots and his partner, the artist Chris Esten, grow much of their own food, produce and sell perennials and maple syrup at local farmers’ markets, and work with a draft horse to log, plow snow, and collect maple sap.

He is pledging to run a carbon-neutral campaign.

Website: facebook.com/bootsforvermont

Other campaign priorities include reducing police violence by “taking their guns away and cease hiring any ex-military, especially those with combat experience”; and guaranteeing a “minimum income” for Vermonters.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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