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Election 2010: Six Democrats running for Senate

Oct. 21, 2010

Six Democratic candidates are vying for Chittenden County’s six seats in the Vermont House, running against six Republicans and four independent party candidates. The Observer provided each candidate with a brief questionnaire; responses appear below.

Responses from Republicans and independents appeared in last week’s issue of the Observer. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Tim Ashe

(Editor’s note: Ashe identifies himself as a Democrat/Progressive)

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Project manager at Cathedral Square, an affordable senior housing organization. I’ve managed construction projects creating or renovating 290 affordable apartments with combined budgets totaling more than $20 million.

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 16

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

Providing long-term, affordable health insurance and energy to residents and businesses.

Last year, Vermont hospitals sought budget increases of $112 million, MVP proposed a 31 percent Catamount premium increase and BC/BS proposed a 12 percent Catamount increase. The health care industry is out of touch with Vermont’s economic reality. I’ll pursue reforms that provide health insurance to every Vermonter and lower costs for small businesses by taking a firm stance against these increases.

The discovery of tritium in a drinking water well is the latest nail in the coffin for Vermont Yankee. I’ll work to develop a plan to replace VY’s share of Vermont’s base energy load with local, renewable energy and to increase investments in efficiency and weatherization programs to save private and public dollars.

Philip Baruth

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Teacher/Writer

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 18

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

“Restoring prosperity” — growing jobs, increasing wages, incubating small businesses. And the number two issue is that we’re badly positioned right now to compete in a fierce global economy.

But the solution is the same. By aggressively pursuing Vermont’s share of the boom in the renewable energy sector — and building out the state’s information infrastructure — we can spur short-term job growth and lift all boats in the long term. Let’s continue the Clean Energy Development Fund, streamline permitting and target tax cuts at firms developing solar, biomass and small wind technologies. I hope to work hand in glove with Sen. Ginny Lyons on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, helping this county prosper. That’s also how we’ll keep our next generation home in Vermont.

Sally Fox

City/Town of residence: South Burlington

Profession: Attorney

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 34

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

The most important problem facing Chittenden County is the condition of the economy. We have an unacceptable rate of unemployment and underemployment and people are struggling with the high costs of everything from energy to health insurance.

The Legislature and the administration must work together with the business, education and non-profit sectors to strengthen our infrastructure, provide access to capital, institute a predictable and progressive tax policy and make a more responsive government in order to create and retain jobs in Vermont.

I support

• Effective and consistent regulation — predictable and transparent permitting

• Equitable taxation system

• Higher education

• Universal health insurance

• Green jobs

• Maintenance of the social safety net to prevent homelessness, incarceration and fractured families.

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Lyons

City/Town of residence: Williston

Profession: College professor

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 39

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

Economic challenges. Revitalizing Vermont’s economic plan is important as is improving our taxation system. Investment in renewable energy, creative economy, small business, working landscape and 21st century jobs will build our future. We must ensure agriculture and working lands are in Chittenden County’s future. Improvement of municipal and state environmental regulations, including storm water utilities, is important.

Vermont continues to benefit from my leadership in energy, the environment and health care. Economic downturn and poverty hurt many in our county. Continued support for Reach Up, affordable housing and Workforce Development Programs is key for change. Core services for mentally ill, disabled and senior citizens will maintain our system of care. The consultant’s report will help reduce business health care costs and improve accessibility for more residents.

Hinda Miller

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Business consultant, Vermont state senator (hindaforsenate.com)

Number of years living in Chittenden County: over 30 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

My hopes for the upcoming session are thoughtful reform in health care and taxation. Expert commissions are studying these complicated issues to give legislators a road map for decision-making. Overall taxation must be radically addressed, especially escalating property taxes and reengineering education funding and school reorganization. Health care reforms to reduce premiums and costs within the system as well as continuous improvement and access are an absolute necessity. There is no silver bullet; in both cases, those who can supposedly afford it pay for those who cannot, which no longer works because of skyrocketing costs. Which brings me to the last issue. Government must create conditions so businesses can create jobs, which will result in more tax revenues to pay for above expenses.

Andy Montroll

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Attorney with my own practice, the Law Office of Andrew Montroll; formerly an optical engineer

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 20

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

The most important issue facing Chittenden County is the same that’s facing Vermont and the country — jobs and the economy. Because many people choose to live and start businesses in Vermont for its high quality of life, enhancing our quality of life is crucial. We should also promote the economy through tax incentives for businesses that create new jobs; ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care; promoting a green energy future; and ensuring we have excellent, affordable schools. As an attorney with an engineering background, and with nearly 20 years of public service, including my current service as vice chairman of the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization and as past president of the Burlington City Council, I’m ready to tackle these challenges in Montpelier.