Candidates address high school students in debate

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(Host) The candidates for lieutenant governor debated a number of key issues at Montpelier High School on Thursday. The forum found the candidates disagreeing on school vouchers, a parental notification abortion bill, and economic development issues.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Roughly 350 students attended the debate where the candidates were interviewed by a panel of high school students from across the state.

Progressive Anthony Pollina won the attention of many students in the audience when he pledged to find ways to make higher education more affordable for students and their families:

(Pollina) “The last thing I want to mention is that the cost of college in Vermont is inexcusably high. There’s no reason for the state of Vermont to have the most expensive state colleges in the country. We’ve been doing a lot more in recent years to build and put kids in prison than we have done to build and put them in colleges. So we need to turn that priority around.”

(Kinzel) Democrat Peter Shumin told the students that he opposes a parental notification abortion bill and he criticized his Republican opponent Brian Dubie for supporting this plan:

(Shumlin) “None of us dispute the fact that we want parents to be involved. But the difference between Brian and Pete Shumlin is this: He thinks that Montpelier can legislate parent involvement, I don’t. He supports Montpelier interfering into a woman’s right to choose, I don’t. I will always stand up for that being a decision between a woman and her doctor. Period. Without any involvement from Montpelier.”

(Kinzel) Dubie urged the students to get more involved in community affairs and he told them that he listens to the opinions of young people. In fact, Dubie says one of his advisors is young man who is a former drug user:

(Dubie) “I have a young person who’s yanked out of his high school experience. He’s in a rehab program in the state of New York right now. He’s advising my campaign on the terrible drug challenge that’s confronting our state. He tells it to me very straight and it’s much different than what I hear from other people who advise my campaign on drug issues. I listen to him. I value his input. He’s helping me write my drug policy.”

(Kinzel) Dubie says he supports school choice legislation that would allow students to use their state block grant at any public, private or religious school in Vermont. Shumlin disagreed and argued that the plan would bankrupt and destroy the state’s public school system.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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