Clavelle says Douglas failing on several issues, misleading voters

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(Host) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Clavelle has launched an aggressive attack on his rival. Clavelle accused Governor Jim Douglas of a failure of leadership on a list of topics – economic development, education, energy issues and health care.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Now that Labor Day has passed, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle says voters have begun to turn their attention to political campaigns. So the Burlington mayor held an end-of-summer news conference to lay out what he sees as the overarching themes of the campaign.

Clavelle says Douglas has too often supported the White House and failed to provide leadership on critical issues facing the state.

(Clavelle) “Our differing stands on key national campaigns really do speak volumes about our political approaches and values. Indeed, Jim Douglas’ allegiance to the Bush agenda – on unfunded mandates for our schools, on energy, on prescription drugs – spells disaster for Vermont.”

(Dillon) Clavelle also sketched out his own agenda for change. On energy issues, he says he’d build on Burlington’s example and would aggressively promote conservation to reduce electricity demand around Vermont. He promised to lower property taxes that fund education. And he said he’ll soon unveil a comprehensive plan to reform health care. Clavelle also drew sharp differences between himself and Douglas on economic development. He promised to promote economic development by using state government to invest in downtowns and affordable housing.

He also accused the governor of misleading voters about his record on jobs. In his campaign ads, Douglas takes credit for getting 7,000 Vermonters back to work. But Clavelle says that’s not true. He pointed out that the state’s own statistics show that Vermont lost 1,800 jobs in July.

(Clavelle) “I think it’s very misleading. It’s fuzzy math at best.”

(Dillon) The governor’s campaign staff videotaped Clavelle’s news conference and officials were primed with a rebuttal. Neale Lunderville is Douglas’ campaign chairman.

(Lunderville) “The mayor offered nothing new today. It’s the same tired attacks on Governor Douglas’ strong record. The governor is very proud of the real leadership he has shown Vermont over the last 20 months, not only in the area of jobs but in working to bring property taxes down for the majority of Vermonter, to supporting family farms, combating illegal drugs, working to get more police officers on our streets and paving our roads.”

(Dillon) The candidates will face off in their first debate next week. Twelve debates are scheduled so far, and three more may be added before voters go to the polls November 2.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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