BENNINGTON — Organizers of a forum slated for Saturday hope the public turns out to meet contenders vying to be the next Vermont governor.
Four of the five gubernatorial candidates will field questions from the public and take part in a "meet-and-greet" at the event on Saturday, April 9, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The forum will be hosted by St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 200 Pleasant St.. Attendance is open to the public and child care will be provided.
It's one of two candidate forums planned by political action group Rights and Democracy Vermont. Earlier the same day, Addison County residents are invited to the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society at 2 Duane Court in Middlebury, 10:30 a.m. to noon.
The four candidates who will attend are Matt Dunne, Sue Minter, Bruce Lisman and Peter Galbraith. The fifth candidate, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, declined to participate in both forums.
The purpose of the local forum is, in part, to better inform voters by giving them a chance to learn more about where candidates stand on issues, according to Mary Gerisch, a member of the forum's organizing committee. She said the forum is in response to many residents saying they didn't know enough about the candidates.
"I think there are a lot of times when folks start feeling overwhelmed and negative about the town's problems," Gerisch said Tuesday. But there's a need to recognize problems and then find solutions, she said, and choosing elected officials wisely is essential.
The candidates are as follows:
• Matt Dunne, a Democrat, is a former state senator. The 46-year-old Hartland resident left his job as a Google executive, where he'd worked for eight years, in February.
• Peter Galbraith, a Democrat, is a former state senator and former United States Ambassador to Croatia. The 65-year-old Townshend resident represented Windham County for two terms in the state senate.
• Sue Minter, a Democrat, previously served in the state House of Representatives for six years. In January 2015, the Waterbury resident was appointed secretary for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Minter, 55, stepped down from that role in September so she could enter the governor's race.
• Bruce Lisman, 68, is a retired Wall Street executive running on the Republican ticket. A Shelburne resident, he is a former Bear Stearns executive and has never held elected office. He is one of two founders for the advocacy group Campaign for Vermont.
• Phil Scott, a Republican, is the current lieutenant governor and has been since 2011. The 57-year-old Berlin resident previously served on the Washington County Senate District. Scott was the only candidate who declined to participate, according to Gerisch. In an article published April 3 by the Vermont Press Bureau, Scott's campaign manager was quoted saying she had "significant concerns about [Rights and Democracy's] extreme tactics and respect for those with whom they disagree."
Each candidate will be given a few minutes to introduce themselves before being given questions developed by organizers and covering issues related to the environment, health, addiction and the economy, Gerisch said.
Those in attendance will also be able to ask questions — anonymously, if they so choose — by submitting note cards, which will be available at the event.
Child care will be provided, Gerisch said, Potential attendees are asked to RSVP at www.radvt.org/apr9.
An American Sign Language interpreter is available, Gerisch said. Organizers ask that individuals request the service by April 6 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forum will be recorded by and replayed on Catamount Access Television.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979