This election season, Vermont Edition has been bringing you one-on-one interviews with leading candidates for Vermont’s state offices. In the last of our election interviews, we talk Democratic candidate for governor Gaye Symington. She’s in a three-way race against incumbent Republican Jim Douglas and independent Anthony Pollina. We’ll talk with Symington about the key economic issues facing the state, and how she’ll accomplish her legislative priorities in a tough budget year.
Also in the program, it’s been about four months since downtown Rutland suffered significant flooding in summer rainstorms. Business reporter Bruce Edwards updates us on how the downtown businesses and buildings are faring now. And we visit a Jericho bonsai grower to learn the mysterious art of growing tiny, tiny trees.
Questions and comments from listeners:
Betty in Plainfield:
As I understand your "Bridge to Opportunity" will provide 150 students with a chance to pursue in higher education. What about the thousands of other students in this state? Don’t you think 150 students is a very small number for this plan that is supposed to "maximize the potential of our youth"?
Elizabeth in Arlington:
Rooms and meals taxes are an income source for the state. What kind of budget dollars do you think needs to be spent on Marketing the State to for that revenue? Do you feel it should remain the same, or have an increase or decrease?
Margie in Shelburne:
I believe the assurance of nutritious, delicious food to be the most basic of human needs. What would you do, as governor, to assure that all Vermonters have this most basic of human needs, taking into consideration that if Vermonters are not well fed, children as well as adults, do not learn as well and cannot have optimally productive lives?
Nick in Burlington:
Jim Douglas seems to be running a really negative campaign. I’ve been really turned off by his tone, and I’m definitely voting for you. But he’s able to run these attacks because of his big money donors and corporate contributors. What can we do to control the ability of candidates to spend these huge sums of money to distort and attack their opponents?
Kathy in South Burlington:
Our economy is really hurting. What’s your plan to grow jobs in Vermont?
Brian in Burlington:
Jim Douglas and John McCain seem really out of touch – touting their ‘Joe the plumber’ rhetoric, but defending tax cuts for millionaires and proposing to gamble social security in the stock market. Why do you think Jim
Douglas continues to defend these failed policies? And what would you do different as governor.
Joe in Colchester:
I was astounded to hear Jim Douglas say recently that he still supports gambling social security and state retirement accounts on Wall Street schemes. I thought this idea was dead after President Bush tried and failed to convince the country to support it a year ago, and even more so now that the market is crashing. What’s your plan to protect social security, pension funds and retirement accounts?
Atticus in Burlington:
Anthony Pollina is running yet again and has gained more than usual popularity. Why do you feel more qualified than Mr. Pollina to be governor? What do you think it takes to be a productive Governor?
Scott in Richmond:
It was clear by the polls that prior to Symington entering the race for governor, Pollina had a strong chance of winning. Now, with the vote split, it looks like the govenor is likely to win, again. My question is: why is
voting for her not simply throwing my vote away since, if she wasn’t running, my vote for Pollina could have won the govenor’s office?
Pat in South Burlington:
Jim Douglas has endorsed Sarah Palin for vice president. Given the possibility that you could be governor of Vermont, do you think Ms. Palin is an acceptable choice? And do you endorse Mr. Obama’s choice for VP in Mr. Biden?
Mary in Richmond:
I have friends who work in non profits that provide state services to low income Vermont families. They are seeing more and more families struggling to survive and having to decide between feeding their families or paying rent or the fuel bill. I have heard stories of elderly Vermonters not being able to afford prescriptions once they pay their fuel bills. How would the Symington administration help these struggling Vermonters?
David in Jercho:
In terms of policy issues (not electability), what most distinguishes you from Anthony Pollina? Where are your views different from his?
Ellen in Middlebury:
Many people in Vermont wanted a two-way race for Governor, and Anthony Pollina declared his intention to run almost four months earlier than Gaye Symington. Additionally, many grassroots Democrats were early supporters of Pollina because he articulated very clear policy alternatives to the Douglas administration. Therefore, my question to Gaye Symignton is: Aren’t you just throwing the election to Jim Douglas by entering the race late as the third candidate?
Paul in Bridport:
If we begin installing turbines on Vermont ridgelines, when will we stop installing them there? And why would we stop installing them there? Our electricity demand is growing at 1% per year. This is expected to continue or increase. A requirement that a fixed percentage of our power come from this low density energy source and obtrusive technology forces us to always have wind turbines being installed on our ridgelines.
Morgan in Montpelier:
If you were elected to the Governor’s office, what priority would you give to addressing both homelessness and affordable housing needs across the state in a meaningful and timely fashion, what would you do in that regard as well as how would you propose paying for such?
Vermont is at an important crossroads. It is imperative we unseat Jim Douglas. Anthony Pollina has acquired many of the important endorsements required and the polls show he has a much better chance at winning the race for governor. Please step aside for the good of our state.
We have been reading in the paper that the Douglas administration is leaving some money on the table that could be used by Vermont for roads and bridges. Can you explain the Federal Transportation money in ordinary terms which we can all understand? It is confusing.
You had said that you support a gas tax when the price per gallon was in the mid $2 range. Now that the price of gas has fallen, would you once again support increasing the gas tax to pay for repairs to our transportation