Douglas Says Goodbye

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(Host) After serving 38 years in public service, Governor Jim Douglas delivered a "farewell" speech Wednesday afternoon at the Statehouse.

Douglas reflected on the challenges that his administration faced over the past 8 years and the policies that he pursued to improve the state’s economic climate.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has the story.

(Kinzel) Douglas began his political career straight out of college.  After graduating from Middlebury, he was elected to the Vermont House in the fall of 1972 and became House Majority leader in 1976.

He served 6 terms as Secretary of State and 4 terms as State Treasurer before being elected to four terms as governor.

Douglas says that when he first ran for governor, he wrote down a list of the reasons why he was seeking the office. The list focused on making Vermont a better place to live.

(Douglas) "I carried that piece of paper with me every day. The vision was at the center of every discussion, every proposal and every decision. My inspiration never changed, my motivation never wavered."

(Kinzel) Douglas traveled around the state more than any other governor. He spoke to groups at breakfast, lunch and dinner and he cut ribbons at numerous grand openings of businesses.

(Kinzel) He says this constant interaction with Vermonters influenced his policies – policies that he says helped Vermont survive a serious recession better than most other states.

(Douglas) "I can’t remember a day on the road when I didn’t hear concerns about the economy and the burden of taxation from the people of our state. I’ll never forget the stories from mothers and fathers struggling to get by on one income or reduced wages, having to make sacrifices to weather the economic storm."

(Kinzel) Douglas said he’s also proud of the health care reform programs that were enacted during his tenure in office, including an initiative that provides timely services for people with chronic illnesses and a state insurance program known as Catamount Health Care.

(Douglas) "Today Vermont enjoys one of the lowest percentages of uninsured residents of any state and we are the best positioned to adapt to ongoing federal reforms…Vermont’s groundbreaking approach holds the greatest promise of reducing costs, increasing quality and providing universal access."

(Kinzel) And then it was time for Douglas to say goodbye.

(Douglas) "And as the long arc of my career draws close I’ll look back and know with all certainty that our state and her people have been most worthy of a life’s work. In the years to come as I pass over the high gaps of the Green Mountains and take in the full breath of Vermont from its clear flowing waters up to its majestic crowns I will be forever thankful for this land we call home. Thank you all very, very much.) (Applause fades) 

(Kinzel) For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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