Lt. governor candidates meet in debate

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(Host) In Thursday’s debate for lieutenant governor, the three major party candidates stayed on the broad themes of their campaigns.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The debate took place in a large hotel ballroom in downtown Montpelier and was sponsored by the Associated Industries of Vermont.

Progressive candidate Steve Hingtgen told members of AIV that he plans to focus exclusively on the issue of health care. Hingtgen wants to eliminate private health insurance companies so that individuals will no longer get their health care coverage from their employers. Instead, Hingtgen would create a single health plan for all Vermonters supported by new revenues and he’s says he’ll press the next governor to support these major reforms:

(Hingtgen) “Who doesn’t think I’m going to be their worst nightmare? I mean I really am. I’m going to be in the lieutenant governor’s office no matter who’s our next governor and I’m going to hold their feet to the fire that we’re not going to let another two years go by without health care reform. I mean, how many more years, how many elections cycles are we willing as Vermonters to watch this thing become rhetoric and then no action, and rhetoric and then no action?”

(Kinzel) Democratic challenger Cheryl Rivers pledged to improve the economic and health security of all Vermonters, something that Rivers says incumbent Republican Brian Dubie has failed to do:

(Rivers) “And those opportunities are at risk right now. They’re at risk because of some failed national policies but they’re also at risk because Vermont currently does not have the leadership in the Lieutenant Governor’s office that shares the values of a majority of Vermonters.”

(Kinzel) Dubie said he’s proud of his record as lieutenant governor and he says he’s worked hard to build consensus at the Statehouse on critical issues:

(Dubie) “See, I ran on jobs and for the last 20 months I’ve focused on trying to create more and better jobs in our state. We worked together and we passed a jobs bill, we worked together and we passed permit reform, we worked together we improved workforce training, we worked together we passed minimum wage increase, we worked together we passed worker compensation reforms.”

(Kinzel) Dubie says he also hopes to create new jobs through his trade missions to China and Canada.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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