Campaigns are about opportunities for voters to get to know you. From the Governor's race, to local House races in your hometown, it's about knocking on doors, attending events, participating in debates, or giving people a glimpse of who you are through a television ad, an ad in a local paper or a postcard in their mailbox.
During my recent travels around the state, I've spoken with hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds, diverse political beliefs, and differing socio-economic situations. But one common theme has connected everyone, including me -- a passion for Vermont and a strong desire to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.
There is a lot of opportunity in the Lieutenant Governor's position to do just that. I was asked by the Burlington Free Press recently to answer the question: "What do Vermonters expect of their lieutenant governor and how do I expect to fulfill that role? I responded in part by saying that:
"According to the Vermont Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor exercises executive responsibilities for the Governor in the Governor's absence, presides over the Senate, and casts a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, if necessary.
This last role calls for a leader who's comfortable making tough decisions when all eyes are on him or her -- which I've demonstrated time and time again, most recently this past spring, as one of only four Vermont Senators to vote against shutting down Vermont Yankee. I believed at the time, and I still believe, that that was absolutely the right decision; I didn't feel that the Legislature had enough information to make that call and to put 650 people out of work. Even though that position wasn't popular with everyone, I wasn't afraid to stand up and speak my mind.
While the legislative duties of the Lieutenant Governor end with the adjournment of the legislative session, the executive responsibility -- to exercise the office of Governor in the Governor's absence -- is a role for which the Lieutenant Governor must always be "on-call". Along these lines, I have also heard consistently that Vermonters expect their Lieutenant Governor to be a true statesman, someone who bridges both leadership and legislative experience with the ability to work alongside any other member of government -- regardless of party affiliation -- to bring about the best possible results for Vermont's citizens."
Throughout the campaign I have been sharing my thoughts about supporting pro-job policies that focus on getting Vermonters back to work, pursuing a balanced energy portfolio, streamlining our permitting process, and pushing for long-overdue reform to the way we pay for education, among other critical issues. But the one topic which really seems to resonate with Vermonters is about my concern that we have lost our sense of self-reliance. In our current economic climate, a lot of Vermonters need help -- but the state's current fiscal climate demands that we think more creatively and look to other places (and not always to state government) to provide the solution. I believe we need to inspire more community-led efforts and to build on our strong history of self-reliance and independence to find practical solutions that will make it easier to make a living and make a home here in Vermont. It is both encouraging and gratifying to me to see how this discussion about self-reliance has struck a chord with Vermonters.
Campaigns are also about character. The issues are important, but in the brief conversations and opportunities candidates have to talk to people, we often don't have time to get into all the details. So it is about character. It's about two things:
ONE -- Who do you trust to lead and to set policy for this state?
TWO -- Who do you think has the best approach to problems we know about -- and the situations we don't even see coming?
Oftentimes it's the little things that people identify with and that make them feel comfortable giving you their trust and their vote.
One experience that I had recently as a business owner made me even more motivated to win this Lt. Governor's race. As you know, the construction industry is struggling right now, and a few months ago, I had to lay 6 people off. I had to tell 6 people that I didn't have work for them right now, and that I hoped I could hire them back sometime soon, but I couldn't guarantee it. That is what everybody has on their minds right now. If they haven't had that experience themselves, they know someone who has, or they're afraid that they might hear that from their boss tomorrow. We're all worried for our futures.
But we as candidates must be careful to not over-promise and under-produce. We must be responsible and truthful and deliver what we do promise. Anything short of that will be hollow and a short-lived dynasty.
That's why it's so important that we elect the right people in November. People we can all trust to lead our state out of these situations, and to take us from a place of worry and fear to one of growth and energy.
There's one important way that you can help to make that happen. Talk about the candidates you believe in. Tell all of your friends -- regardless of party affiliation -- why you support us.
Because when it comes down to it, that is what helps us win elections. It's the grassroots support of regular people like all of you, talking about my background, my character and my ideas around the dinner table -- and being inspired enough by what you've learned to ask for a Phil Scott sign or a Brian Dubie sign to put up in your yard or place of business.
Please help us do that. Thank you.