Gubernatorial candidates debate on ‘Switchboard’

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(Host) The four major candidates for governor debated a wide range of issues last night on VPR’s Switchboard program.

Republican Jim Douglas’ proposal to adopt a Megan’s Law for convicted drug dealers drew strong criticism from Democrat Doug Racine and Independent Con Hogan. The plan would require the convicted individuals to register with local police departments and community members would be notified when the dealers moved into their neighborhoods. Racine said it was simple solution to a very complicated problem:

(Racine) “We need to talk about law enforcement that works. And when I talk to law enforcement officers, they’re very concerned that this proposal is essentially saying, ‘Well let’s try a simple answer.’ But it’s distracting us from the real issues. They need better resources to get the hard core drug dealers off the streets. They need better resources to stop drugs from flowing into Vermont.”

(Host) Hogan said the plan would take needed resources away from more effective prevention programs:

(Hogan) “And for those kids who don’t have parental supervision, find a mentor for them. Find somebody who cares about them so they can build that human relationship they need. That’s how we’ll begin to change this culture of drugs. And that is more prevention than it is trying to catch it and fix it all on the back end.”

(Host) But Douglas argued that the plan would be effective in protecting local communities from any future activities of the drug dealers:

(Douglas) “I talk with parents, I talk with grandparents, I talk with community leaders, I talk with educators across the state who feel very, very strongly that we have to confront the epidemic of drugs in our community if we are going to be successful. We’ve got to be sure that we know when a convicted drug dealer moves in the neighborhood. And I believe it is an important part of our enforcement effort to insure that that occurs.”

(Host) All the candidates did agree on one issue during the program. They all say they would oppose efforts to impose term limits on state officials in Vermont.

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