Freeman, Costello hoping to rally Democrats in lieutenant governor’s race

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(Host) In Vermont politics, attention has begun to focus on the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Two men want the nomination – Tom Costello of Brattleboro and Nate Freeman of Northfield.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has this preview of the race.

(Sneyd) Democrats took a while to get into the lieutenant governor’s race.

Now, both candidates say they’re rushing to make up for lost time.

Nate Freeman says he’s tried to be innovative as he introduces himself to the state.

(Freeman) “We’re actually doing quite a tour of the public access stations here in the state of Vermont. It’s a medium that I think is sometimes underused but it’s definitely something that people watch on the local level.”

(Sneyd) The tour is part of Freeman’s effort to portray himself as a fresh young voice for the party.

He’s 40 years old, runs his own upholstering business and is making his first statewide race. He ran for the Legislature two years ago but lost.

Tom Costello says experience is what the state needs. He’s served in the Legislature twice, once representing Rutland and most recently Brattleboro. He’s been chairman of two different House committees.

Costello believes his deep contacts with current and former elected officials makes him a stronger candidate.

(Costello) “I’ve traveled throughout the state and visited fairs and visited old legislative friends and friends in the law and met as may Vermonters as I can and listened to them.”

(Sneyd) Costello is 63 years old. He’s an attorney in Brattleboro.

Both men say they believe the lieutenant governor should be a forceful leader who helps to set the state’s agenda. They say Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie hasn’t done that during his six years in office.

Freeman has focused on energy policy during the campaign. He wants to create a Department of Energy in state government.

(Freeman) “The problem that we are facing right now with the energy crisis from the perspective of how we work on that through our government is that we have a scattered approach. A scattered approach to the energy issue will only deliver scattered outcomes.”

(Sneyd) Costello says economic issues are at the top of his agenda.

He worries, for example, that the elderly can’t afford to stay in their homes. He wants the state to pay property taxes for senior citizens. In return, the state would have a lien against those taxpayers’ homes and would collect the taxes when the property was sold.

(Costello) “The elders thereby could continue to live in their homes, would have the cost of taxes to buy their fuel and food and to survive in these present times. The towns would get paid and eventually the state, because of the lien on their property, would get paid back.”

(Sneyd) There’s only one other statewide race in the primary on September ninth. Craig Hill of Montpelier is challenging Congressman Peter Welch for the Democratic nomination.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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