Gov. Peter Shumlin and Governor-elect Phil Scott issued a joint statement Thursday in a call for unity that was both symbolic and explicit.
“At this time of national discord,” the statement reads, “Vermont can present a united voice urging compassion, community, and fierce dedication to equal rights and justice. The example we set for the nation can help guide us forward through this turbulent time.”
The joint statement is politically noteworthy, coming from the sitting Democratic governor and the Republican governor-elect who won a hard-fought campaign that included attacks on Shumlin’s record designed to bolster Scott’s appeal. The pair set their political differences aside for the joint statement.
“Vermont’s reservoir of goodwill is deep and our national leadership well documented,” it continues. “Our history is of being first to stand up for equality, inclusiveness, and tolerance is well known. Even in the face of the ugly, sometimes discouraging, reminders of how much further we must go in our pursuit of equal rights and a just and tolerant nation, we will not be deterred. Instead, we will be more resolved to help where there is need; listen where there is frustration; and act where there is injustice.”
The statement comes after an unprecedented week of top Vermont elected officials voicing concerns of their own as they work to ease public concerns about a new president-elect.
Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch both voiced concerns the day after the election about what a Trump presidency might mean for minorities and other groups targeted by some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
Vermont’s incoming attorney general, TJ Donovan, said on Vermont Edition that “we all have to be prepared” for what is “going to be a defining moment, not just for our state, but I think [for] our country.” Donovan said one area he will be watching is Trump’s policies regarding deporting immigrants convicted of minor offenses.
Governor-elect Phil Scott isn’t only teaming up with Shumlin. He’s also working to form a coalition of Republican governors in the northeast to advocate against Trump policies that they think would harm constitutents.
Trump’s nomination of former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon also drew a response from Vermont’s congressional delegation. Due to Bannon’s ties with white nationalists and the alt-right, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Leahy called on Trump to reconsider the pick, and Welch signed onto a letter along with dozens of other House Democrats calling for Trump to withdraw Bannon’s appointment.