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Election 2010: Six Republicans running for Senate

Oct. 14, 2010

Six Republican candidates are vying for Chittenden County’s six seats in the Vermont House, running against six Democrats and four independent party candidates. The Observer provided each candidate with a brief questionnaire; responses appear below. Responses from Democrats will appear in next week’s issue of the Observer. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Dennis Bedard

(no photo provided)

City/Town of residence: South Burlington

Profession: Aerospace consultant

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 25

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? Our system of taxation is complicated and needs to be completely re-vamped to allow homeowners the ability to stay in their homes and create more disposable income. I would address this problem through the reduction of spending across the board while increasing revenues through job creation. Simplification of the permit process and changing of the business culture to embrace and entice growth is what we need in Chittenden County.

Mike Branon

City/Town of residence: South Burlington

Profession: Business owner

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 5

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? In Chittenden County, we’re in danger of sliding backward in our pursuit of prosperity. Businesses, families and individuals are having a tougher time than ever dealing with a tax system that takes more and more of their incomes each year. Our Legislature in Montpelier routinely spends more than it has available to them, then it raises taxes and fees to make up the difference.

I plan, if elected, to lead the way to restricting spending to no more than 2.5 percent growth annually, but only if revenues have grown by at least that amount. If organic growth is less than 2.5 percent, we spend only what we have (See full plan at mikebranonVT.com).

Shelley Palmer

City/Town of residence: Williston

Profession: Paving, construction

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 26

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? Our biggest challenge is financial. Our government needs more financial flexibility. Montpelier doesn’t control their spending. Our economy is shrinking due to cost and regulation. Taxes, both state and federal, are going to explode if we are to remain solvent. To grow our economy we need to shrink state spending and bend this curve downward. Our state spending has increased 153 percent in 13 years. We need to stop piling liability on the backs of the taxpayers. If state-paid employees want retirement funds they need to pay for it themselves. The billions promised we simply can’t afford. If the growth in government can’t be controlled we will continue to lose jobs and wages will fall. Not exactly the progress politicians promise.

Annette Roque Renaud

City/Town of residence: Essex Junction

Profession: Self-employed — Tax preparation business with Bernard Roque

Number of years living in Chittenden County: Since I was 11; on and off in adult years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? The most important issue is creating and retaining self-sustaining jobs and job growth. You can’t discuss self-sustaining job growth without discussing the present energy issues. Chittenden County has been the host of IBM for decades. IBM, through salaries, benefits and contributions, has helped build Chittenden County into a vibrant community. We host not only families and a way of life for them, but also beautiful rural areas for farming and recreation.

We need to see businesses as synergistic partners in revenue and opportunities for the Vermont way of life. Act 250 needs to be streamlined with its regulations and licensing practices. Chittenden County’s planning and zoning boards need to have input as they are the people it most affects, as well as the business community.

Charlie Smith

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Consultant / formerly president of Key Bank; secretary of Human Services; secretary of Administration

Number of years living in Chittenden County: Approximately 57

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? The biggest issue facing the voters of Chittenden County is the economy. People are concerned about job security, under-employment, the cost of living and whether their children will have career opportunities in Vermont. The Legislature will make major decisions next year that will impact whether Vermont rebounds from the recession with strength and confidence.

First, I propose to manage the $112 million deficit without reliance on new taxes. Second, I will push for a structure to contain cost growth and put state spending on a long-term, sustainable track. Third, I will promote consistent, predictable, long-term policies that contain basic costs such as energy, health care and taxes for families, employers and entrepreneurs.

Diane Snelling

City/Town of residence: Hinesburg

Profession: Artist, Creative consultant

Number of years living in Chittenden County: Over 50

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue? We must reduce spending in the state budget and make even harder choices than we have in the last few years. If we can reduce spending with great discipline we will be able to moderate taxes and create a stronger economy. Predictability in regulation and taxes will invigorate business. The process of moving to outcomes based budgeting began with Challenges For Change, and I believe we should convert the entire budget to promote accountability. Working to make constructive change is hard because there are so many obstacles, but we must keep trying.

I am proud to have served as one of your Chittenden County senators, and with your support I look forward to continuing to work for you.