Meet the candidates: Six Democrats running for Senate10/16/08

Oct. 16, 2008

The Democratic Party has fielded six candidates to run for Chittenden County’s six seats in the Vermont Senate. The Observer provided each candidate with a brief questionnaire, and responses appear below. Democratic incumbent Ed Flanagan of Burlington did not return his questionnaire by press deadline.

Fourteen candidates have come forth to vie for the Chittenden County Senate seats. In addition to the Democrats, the field includes two third party candidates — whose responses also appear on this page — and six Republicans. Next week The Observer will run responses from Republican candidates.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

Tim Ashe

City of residence: Burlington

Age: 31

Profession: I’m the Project Manager at Cathedral Square Corp., a non-profit affordable senior housing organization. I’ve managed projects with a combined budget of more than $17 million.

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 14 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? The most important issue is providing low-cost energy to residents and businesses well into the future. The rising energy and fuel costs all around us are just the beginning of what’s to come. Vermont ratepayers currently enjoy favorable rates due to Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee contracts that were negotiated years ago. Such advantageous rates won’t be extended to us again.

I believe we need to invest now in the infrastructure necessary to replace the state’s base energy load with local, clean energy generation like Burlington Electric Department’s McNeil Wood-Fired plant. We should also increase investment in efficiency and weatherization programs, saving private and public dollars in the long run. My strong support for these initiatives is one reason Bernie Sanders supports my candidacy.

Denise Begins Barnard

Town of residence: Richmond

Age: 48

Profession: Small business owner

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 48 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? Aging infrastructure of our bridges and roads. As we face the highest gas prices we have seen in many years, Vermonters are driving less. With declining gas tax revenues, this is having an impact on our Transportation budgets. We have many bridges that were built after the 1927 flood, and our interstates are 50 years old. We must look to surrounding states and examine all types of different revenue sources that could be used. Because these old bridges were built at the same time, the cost of fixing them is hitting us all at once. One solution might be bonding — to spread out the cost over a longer period of time. Vermont has not been able to meet its infrastructure needs on a pay as you go basis.to come)

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Lyons

Town of residence: Williston

Age: 64

Profession: College professor

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 37 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? Economy and challenges from health care and energy costs.

Reduce rates of healthcare increases by preventing preventable diseases, efficiently administering healthcare programs, information technology, increasing access to Catamount Care, connecting End of Life programs with those in need, and educating about appropriate access to health services. I work effectively to reduce cost shifts that make our care system economically unsustainable.

Economic opportunity is linked to energy development. Job creation and independence from expensive fossil fuels comes from weatherization, bio-fuels, alternative transportation, local solar and wind power development. Renewable electric generation, efficiency programs provide jobs and cost effective, stable, reliable electric energy for Vermonters. These help insulate Vermonters from increased electric rates as VY and HQ are reassessed. Vermonters benefit from energy programs I helped legislate and I will provide solid leadership in these areas.

Hinda Miller

City of residence: Burlington

Age: n/a

Profession: Business/Yoga consultant

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 30 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? The most important issue is the support of inadequate infrastructure: roads and bridges, public transportation, telecommunications, higher education, workforce training, as well as the support of more entrepreneurial job creation.

As part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will do my best to make sure any available resources are directed toward these issues, including increased bonding limits for the capital budget, and serious thought to more money directed to higher education.

Also, there must be more oversight on the Vermont Telecommunication Authority to make sure that rural parts of Chittenden County get the telecommunication infrastructure they need for businesses and individual households.

Doug Racine

Town of residence: Richmond

Age: 56

Profession: Partner in family business, Willie Racine’s Jeep

Number of years living in Chittenden County: All my life except four years in college and three years in Washington, D.C. working for U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? The economy is what I hear the most about. While many forces are outside our control, I will work to enhance the basics of a strong state economy: infrastructure, including our transportation system and high-speed Internet access; education and workforce training; our unique quality of life; and fiscal responsibility. I will also continue to support assistance to our most vulnerable and needy citizens.

Other priorities include:

> Public safety, especially for our children. The tragedy of the Brooke Bennett murder shows the shortcomings of our current laws and criminal justice system.

> Healthcare. My goal is access to high quality, affordable health care for all Vermonters.

> Children. All kids, regardless of economic status, deserve a chance to be healthy and to succeed.