GOP Candidates For Secretary Of State Have Different Priorities

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(Host) The two Republicans running for secretary of state say they would have very different priorities if they were elected this fall.

VPR’s Patti Daniels explains.

(Daniels) Jason Gibbs and Chris Roy share the Republican Party and a commitment to smaller government.

But they part ways in what role the secretary of state’s office should play in that government.

In a campaign debate on VPR, Roy said the duties of the office are clearly established and he’d work to carry them out.

(Roy) "The secretary of state has certain powers and authorities but doesn’t have others. The legislative branch and the executive branch have a whole host of other substantive policy responsibilities. … I think the secretary of state should focus on his or her core responsibilities and let the other branches of government take care of theirs."

(Daniels) But Gibbs says the secretary of state’s office should be part of the state’s answer to the recession.

(Gibbs) "We’re going to set very clear priorities. We’re going to go to the areas where we can make the most difference economically. We’re going to reduce that office’s reliance on the taxpayers. We’re going to make it fundamentally more efficient and productive, much more innovative and nimble. We’re going to focus on meeting the needs of the 21st century citizen and meeting the needs of the 21st century economy."

(Daniels) Roy and Gibbs have tangled during the campaign about each others’ work experience, and they did so again in the debate.

Chris Roy criticizes Jason Gibbs for spending the majority of his adult career in the public sector.

Roy says his own 20 years as a private lawyer give him the broad perspective that’s needed in Montpelier.

(Roy) "Before I decided to run I had to convince myself  that I was the most qualified person for the position. In looking at my areas of experience, practicing law, working with private clients through the regulatory process, through the licensing process, working with clients before local and state boards and then looking at my volunteer service, I came to realize I think I do have a unique and compelling set of skills and experience that make me uniquely qualified for the office."

(Daniels) But Jason Gibbs says his work in senior positions for retiring Governor Jim Douglas and as Forest, Parks and Recreation commissioner prepares him well for statewide office.

(Gibbs) "I spent six years at the most senior levels of the executive branch of state government where we managed a $4.5 billion, 8,500 person enterprise. So I have some experience that I think is relevant"

(Daniels) The two Republicans both say they believe former felons shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

The Democrats also have a primary to determine their secretary of state candidate in the general election. Incumbent Deb Markowitz is stepping down so she can run for governor.

For VPR News, I’m Patti Daniels.

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