Time To Vote: Here Are The Candidates For Vermont Lieutenant Governor

Oct 31, 2016

The lieutenant governor presides over and sets the agenda in the state senate and, when things don't go as planned, could become governor.

Election Results | Election Day Live Blog

What does the lieutenant governor do?

In Vermont, the lieutenant governor's primary responsibilities are to stand in for the governor when the chief executive is out of state or incapacitated, and to serve as a tie-breaking vote in the Vermont Senate when needed.

Unlike in other states, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Vermont run separately, making it possible for candidates from different parties to serve together.

Who is running for lieutenant governor of Vermont?

There are three candidates for lieutenant governor on the ballot in this general election:

The current lieutenant governor, Republican Phil Scott, has chosen not to run for a fourth term in office and instead is the Republican candidate for governor.

Where are they on the issues?

All three spoke to VPR's Morning Edition about their stances on the top issues facing Vermonters, including:

  • Republican candidate
  • Town of residence: Swanton
  • Served one term as state auditor, two terms state senator representing Franklin County and part of Grand Isle
  • Former executive vice president for risk oversight at Fidelity Investments
  • Republican candidate for governor in 2012
  • Campaign website

On health care: “In the short run, I think we should move rapidly to the federal exchange, just as 40 other states have done. That will bring us first, consistency, and will also bring us a health exchange that actually works … One of the problems that we have now, in addition to all the technological problems with our exchange [Vermont Health Connect], is we have very limited choices and the choices that we have tend to be very high cost.

“It's great to say that we've reduced the number of uninsured people, which we have — we had a very low number to begin with — but if we reduce the number but we only have insurance that's so costly that no one can afford, I'm not sure how far ahead we are in the overall game.”

On renewable energy: “I think [it] is very important. I think the notion of not being dependent upon a particular energy source is important. I think the reduction in our use of fossil fuels over time is important, but I think we need to balance what we do with a couple of things that we should consider carefully. One is the speed at which we do things. I'm concerned that if we move too quickly to populate our ridge tops with industrial wind towers for which there is no apparent storage available now — that when we get there, that all of technology will have moved forward and we will be stuck with 20th century technology well into the middle of the 21st century. I think we need to move at a more deliberate speed.”

On marijuana legalization: “I don't think that this is the time to legalize recreational marijuana. I certainly will never say never, but I think we need to take an amount of time to see what happens in those states such as Colorado or Washington that have already done so.

“Above all, I am concerned about highway safety. We don't have an effective means to test for impairment. And until we do, I think it's very unwise to encourage — and particularly, as some have said, that this is a tourism magnet — [having] marijuana available so that we have people on our roads and highways coming from surrounding states … who may be impaired. I think those are real problems.

“Lastly, I've seen those who say that cannabis is the economic development engine that's going to propel us forward. And I think that's absolute nonsense … All of those things tell me that it's probably wise for us to wait and see what actually results in a little bit longer-term study of marijuana in Colorado and in Washington before we move forward with something on our own."

On working with a governor from another party: “I would do it the same way that I did during my time as state auditor and as a state senator. Clearly you accomplish nothing if you can't come to common ground at least on some issues with people of an opposite party.”

“As a lieutenant governor, you actually have no authority, but what you do have is the ability to have a blank piece of paper and to focus laser-like on some particular issues. And in my case, focus on new ideas ideas that are working elsewhere, ideas that can help move our state forward, ideas that can help our people get first to affordability and then to a more vibrant economy, and bringing those ideas to people on all sides of the political aisle. Those are the things that I do, have done and would continue to do. And above all, you have to have nonpartisan facts in order to get bipartisan solutions, and that's what I want to focus on.”

His 'elevator pitch' to voters: “I've lived in Vermont all of my life. I've been an entrepreneur, I've started a business and grown it. I've worked for a large corporation. I've served in state government. I've served as your state auditor. I've seen a variety of things, and have experience that covers a variety of areas. And all of that experience, I think, has given me a perspective and a judgment that could be of value to help Vermont move ahead.

“My real focus is on building a vibrant economy in Vermont, and I want to do that with the help of all the people in the Legislature, all the political parties and all the citizens of Vermont. I will keep an open mind and an open door. And on Nov. 8, I ask for your vote.”

Want to hear more from Randy Brock?

  • Liberty Union candidate
  • Self-described “socialist, pacifist and atheist”
  • Town of residence: Newbury
  • Organic farmer and horse logger
  • Longtime member of Veterans for Peace
  • Party website

On health care: “I think [Vermont] should be approaching it from a preventive basis, and I think that the health of Vermonters is related to the environment and how we treat it and to the farming practices that we employ in this state. And my feeling is that the Department [Agency] of Agriculture has to be exclusively interested only in transitioning to an all-organic farming system in Vermont. The system that we have now is polluting the water, pollutes the air and contributes to the ill health of many people.

“I am all for socialized medicine and single payer from as locally-based as possible. So anything that relates and is integrated to the federal system, I would be opposed to continuing that, and [would] get out.”

On renewable energy: “I think [energy] should be as local as possible. That's a socialist point of view, where towns or groups of towns should determine what they want to do and how they want to provide the energy that that town or group of towns or community are going to use. I am opposed to industrial wind power, industrial solar power and industrial corporate power generation of any kind.

"If [Vermont] doesn't get there [to 90 percent of its power from renewable sources] by 2050, well, so be it. But I think it should be determined by local citizens and not by state government or federal government."

On marijuana legalization: “I favor the full legalization of marijuana — and all drugs for that matter. The war on drugs hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work here, it doesn’t work anywhere, so let’s forget that war and allow people put into their bodies whatever they wish to put into their bodies ... My opinion is that — and there's some information out there ... if you end the war on drugs and legalize drugs, then you'll reduce crime."

On working with a governor from another party: “I’m not so interested in finding common ground with, I’m assuming it’s going to be a Democrat or a Republican. They’re both corporate parties and they cater more to the corporate world than I would. I would just promote the policies and beliefs of the Liberty Union Party as a balance to whatever that person was promoting and advocating.”

His 'elevator pitch' to voters: “I think it’s important that we have as many choices as possible, and that the policies of my candidacy and Liberty Union are to strengthen the communities and the individual as opposed to the corporations and the moneyed interests of the state.”

Want to hear more from Boots Wardinski?

  • Democratic/Progressive candidate
  • Resident of: Hinesburg
  • Fourteen years in the Vermont House of Representatives
  • Elected 2012 to State Senate
  • Farmer and co-owner of Full Moon Farm
  • Campaign website

On health care: “There's the big-picture broken system, which for me still has health care being really disjointed and not just simply a universal system. But that's not something we can solve today. What's broken today is the [Vermont] Health Connect website and all the interactions with folks and having to plug in this and wait in lines for that. That's really a problem ... But in the big picture, we need to look forward and look at what's going to happen next.

“I'd rather see us look at the studies coming out this fall around Universal Primary Care, or Dr. Dynasaur 2.0, where we can expand certain levels of service that people have faith and trust in. People really respect and value Dr. Dynasaur — let's expand that so that we up the age and get broader coverage for folks.

“If we move away from a Vermont-based system we're going to be increasing those costs for many ordinary working-class Vermonters, and that's not the direction I think we should be going.”

On renewable energy: “As a farmer, I'm seeing the consequences of climate change every day. So there's no doubt that we have to do our part in Vermont, and even a little more than our part. The biggest way to reduce our carbon footprint is actually energy efficiency and investing in weatherization and reducing how much energy we're using. But also we need to invest in our renewable energy portfolio. We've been doing that. It's been an incredible economic boost for this state.

“I don't think we're going to end up with 200 miles of ridgeline industrial wind, but right now I'm all in. We need solar, preferably on our rooftops and in our impervious surfaces — but on our lower-quality soils, I'm OK with solar fields. We have to have a strong voice in moving our country away from a carbon-based economy towards one that is more sustainable or we're all going to really face some terrible consequences.”

On marijuana legalization: “[Last session] I introduced S-95, which would have had more cultivating licenses so that we don't have it just be a small set of businesses that sort of own and operate the whole scenario. I also prefer a homegrown portion to be a part of it, much like beer. You can brew your own beer, but if you don't do that you go to the store in a regulated environment.

“I think it's clear that prohibition is a complete failure with regard to restricting youth access and restricting sort of the underground criminal activity. If we bring it above board, a) people pay their fair share of taxes; b) we have resources to then deal with education prevention and treatment, particularly of opiate-addicted individuals, which right now we don't have the funding for; and c) it will actually develop tourism dollars. So I think there are a lot of benefits both from a health perspective, a prevention perspective and an economic perspective.”

On working with a governor from another party: “When I first started in politics, I was elected as a Progressive in the House, and I actually developed the ability to work with people across all parties because you don't win with six votes in the House. At the time it was only four. I became chair of Agriculture under Gaye Symington [with a] Democratic majority, huge majority in the House. I also passed medical cannabis through a Republican House with Jim Douglas as governor. So I think it's very clear that when you focus on issues and you bring people into the process, the partisan challenges really go away. And that's what I've always done is bring lots of people into the process, bring facts to the table, advocate for an issue regardless of who's in power, and I will continue to do that.”

His 'elevator pitch' to voters: “As a farmer and small business owner, a family person with a child in schools, an experienced policy maker with 14 years in the House and four in the Senate working across the aisle to pass significant legislation here in Vermont, I think I'm well-prepared to be lieutenant governor, which also means being well-prepared to be governor if unfortunate circumstances persist or exist. And my experience bringing many, many people into the process is something that is really a positive asset as lieutenant governor. And I look forward to that opportunity to continue to work on health care reform, affordable housing and also our rural economy, which as a farmer, I'm well aware of.”

Want to hear more from David Zuckerman?

Time To Vote: Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Share This Guide & Your Feedback

  • Use the Social Sharing links below to share this guide with your friends on Facebook & Twitter
  • Send us an email or Tweet us if you have feedback for the VPR News team.