Election season always brings up issues most relevant to Vermonters. Over the last few weeks, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald have been presenting articles, profiles, letters and commentaries to highlight where candidates (and their opponents and critics) stand on the issues.
As is tradition in these publications, we present our endorsements for the contested statewide races. Spoiler alert: Our editorial board has agreed to stick with the incumbents. What follows is our reasoning:
Incumbent Phil Scott certainly made his share of enemies in his first term. His position on gun control has had him scrambling a bit to win back the gun-rights arm of his Republican base. But his courageous stand on those bills was the right decision for Vermont. By signing marijuana legislation, he endeared himself to many Democrats in the state who had been pushing for pot laws. Scott has pleased many centrists — the largest voting bloc in the state — and his constant focus on affordability and workforce development is the direction Vermont wants and needs right now. While some have criticized this governor for not doing enough, we feel his reasoned, low-key approach in the wake of the wildly volatile Shumlin administration and the divisive nature of the national political scene sets the right tone. To be sure, his vetoes on paid family leave, minimum wage and consumer justice reform, among others, show his political stripes are still intact, and his critics say his administration will only further hurt Vermonters.
Christine Hallquist, the Democratic challenger, deserves praise for bringing issues like climate change and broadband access to the front of discussions about the state’s economic future. While her management experience and coalition-building skills have generated notable outcomes for our state’s power grid, the power struggles in the legislature require more nuance and partisan diplomacy.
In this election, we support Phil Scott.
Incumbent David Zuckerman’s politics are progressive, as is his approach to working with both parties at the State House. While he was very effective in his role as a state senator, he seems to find himself holding back in his position in the administration. And while Zuckerman is not a fan of being sidelined from Gov. Phil Scott’s cabinet, the Hinesburg farmer still has been making solid attempts to reach out to Vermonters and engage them on issues — social and economic — most important to them. Zuckerman has a grasp on the issues affecting the wallets of Vermonters, and in his role as ambassador to all Vermonters as well as presiding over the Senate, he shows more openness toward creative solutions than holding to the party line. While he struggles on issues that didn’t go his way, we like his forward thinking.
Republican challenger Don Turner, the minority leader, is a hometown hero for Milton. He has lots of local leadership experience, but he is a Republican through and through. His talking points feel partisan, and even farther to the right than his moderate governor. And while he seems convinced Zuckerman is being partisan in his role as lieutenant governor, we believe Turner would be more so. His focus on efficiency in government is well-received, but the challenges moving forward for Vermont demand a more tri-partisan approach to problem-solving and policy-making.
We believe David Zuckerman is better suited.
The Times Argus and Rutland Herald are putting their support behind both incumbents Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent, and Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat. While we have been highly critical of Sanders for his representation of the state while serving as the leader of a high-profile “political movement,” his experience, voting record and voice is what’s best for Vermont. Likewise, Welch, who is one of the most vocal advocates for bipartisanship in Congress and always is seeking ways to build coalitions, is one of the most relatable, constituent-minded candidates Vermont has had in many years. He has become an effective leader in Washington, D.C., and consistently is putting Vermont first in every conversation.
Our papers are throwing our support behind Jim Condos for Secretary of State, Doug Hoffer for State Auditor and TJ Donovan for Attorney General. While we have had quibbles with all three over the course of their terms, their actions, policies and positions continue to work in the interests of a majority of Vermonters. We urge voters to support your incumbents in these statewide races.
Lastly, we urge you to vote. These midterm elections are critical not just for our state, but the nation as a whole. Elections are necessary course corrections, and regardless of our endorsements or the endorsements of others, your vote is what matters most. Please be sure to exercise that constitutional right at this critical moment in U.S. history.