Time To Vote: Here Are Vermont's Candidates For U.S. House Representative

Oct 31, 2016

Two people want to go to the U.S. House of Representatives on Vermont’s behalf to try to get things done in Washington.

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What does the representative do?

Also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman, Vermont's single member of the U.S. House of Representatives is elected to a two-year term to serve the people of Vermont's congressional district.

Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees.

Who's running to be Vermont's representative to the U.S. House?

There are two candidates for representative to Congress on Vermont's ballot in this general election:

Where are they on the issues?

Both spoke to VPR's All Things Considered to talk about their candidacies, their stances on various issues, including:

Learn more about Clawson and Welch below, including biographical information and their thoughts on foreign policy, agriculture and renewable energy.

Credit Courtesy Erica Clawson

  • Liberty Union candidate
  • Town of residence: Charleston
  • Has not held elected office in Vermont before
  • Activist
  • Campaign website

On why she's running for Congress:

"I would like to have a U.S. Representative in Congress who really understands the needs of the working class, and who will fight for that, and who isn't corruptible, basically. As a Liberty Union Party member, I volunteered awhile back to run for this."

On foreign policy:

"One big issue for me in terms of our foreign policy is how happy as a country we are to go to war with other countries or to seek out wars, look for itches to scratch in terms of spreading democracy to the world.

"And so something that I would like to do is take a lot of the massive war budget that our country has, and a lot of the money that we're sending to countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia ... and to bring that money back to North America, to the United States. And put that in places like building infrastructure and supporting building jobs here in the United States."

On agriculture:

"Agriculture is one of those things that is very important to Vermont, and I actually happen to live on a small family farm in Charleston. And for me, it's important that small farms have the ability to stay afloat, something that we've had some trouble with ourselves.

"Literally anything that comes across the desk that helps a small farmer is very important and something that I'd like to push through. And anything that helps a large farmer, I'd like to do my best to sort of fight to change it and shape it so that it's more beneficial to the small farmers, to the family farmers."

On renewable energy:

"We should definitely continue to push toward [Vermont's goal of 90 percent of energy from renewables by 2050], even 100 percent in the future. I'd like to see more solar, more wind power. And some things that I would like to do to help that along is to give things like wind turbines and solar arrays to the communities that they would be placed in, so that they'll be a little better taken. A lot of turbines have gone up that ultimately don't help the communities that they're sitting in, and I think that that's one of the problems and that's one of the things that helps them become controversies."

Want to hear more from Clawson?

  • Democratic and Republican candidate
  • Town of residence: Norwich
  • Incumbent, running for sixth term
  • Campaign website

On what he's done for Vermont in Congress:

"The biggest challenge we face in the House of Representatives is to make that institution work. And the approach I've taken, that I think has been good for Vermont, is to take the Vermont way of doing business – where yes, you disagree with people, but you respect them, you listen to their point of view and you make a determined effort to find some common ground. And of course, in Washington, that's not happening ... I think we need legislators who have that Vermont style."

On foreign policy:

"The ongoing engagement in the Middle East and just the fallout from the disastrous decision that was made to invade Iraq, on the basis of false information, continues to plague us. We are engaged actively in hostilities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And Congress has a responsibility to have a debate about this whole policy, and what the limits are of what can and should be done. And it's why I've been a strong advocate of having a debate on an authorization for the use of military force ...

"An occupation force, with nation-building as a goal, didn't work in Afghanistan, it's not working and hasn't worked in Iraq. The United States can be helpful, it can play some role, but the fundamental decision about the future of Iraq has to be made by Iraqis."

On agriculture:

"Dairy is a big part, and continues to be in Vermont. And Congress has a responsibility to have a reasonable safety net program for agriculture, and the one we have right now for dairy doesn't work. We're going to have a chance to amend that, or have a new Farm Bill – and I'll be working hard with Vermont farmers to try to get a better, reasonable and realistic program.

"There's a lot of transition in agriculture in Vermont. And it's why the farm-to-school programs, the organic programs, the effort that we made in Vermont at the state level, then down in Washington on GMOs – all of this is very important, where we are going to be promoting more local agriculture, more organic agriculture and more healthy foods. So there's a big role that Congress can play in the policy, where we try to steer resources and policy towards local production and not just Big Ag."

On renewable energy:

"The Congress role should be to have policies that really do promote efficiency and promote renewable energy and support local generation, which requires some significant improvements in the electric grid.  The question of where any project should be sited, whether it's wind or solar, or even gas ... I'd see that as much more of a local issue where the local state and the local community is the one that's primarily involved in the siting decision.

"But the policies that get us to promote efficiency, to promote renewable energy and to actually generate a clean economy, those policies Congress has a very, very big role in. I believe it's important because the environment, obviously ... but also, if we take on this challenge, we're going to create jobs ...

"I've supported tax credits. You know, when you [have] got a new industry standing up, it raises the question [of] whether as a public policy to get it going, you have some subsidies. And we've had an investment tax credit, we've had some solar credits, and I've supported those."

Want to hear more from Welch?

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

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