BENNINGTON — Candidate for lieutenant governor Randy Brock visited Bennington on Tuesday, and spoke of a campaign centered around encouraging innovation and new ideas.
The 73-year-old Republican politician and businessman, who has been the executive vice president for risk oversight for Fidelity Investments, and served as Vermont's state auditor from 2005 to 2007 and as a state senator from Franklin County from 2009-2013, ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin in 2012 and is currently running against Democratic challenger David Zuckerman for the lieutenant governorship.
"We need to get our government into the 21st century, thinking innovatively," he said, "We need to piggyback on what others are doing, and move ourselves that way, and constantly focus on what we're trying to do. We need to avoid the sort of thing that we do in government, where we get short of money because we overspend, and then we decide that the only way we're going to balance the budget is an across-the-board 3 percent cut. Which is absolutely the worst way to govern anything, because you ensure that you have mediocrity throughout your organizations, and there are some things that government has to do very, very well."
"My opponent has criticized me for saying, 'I don't want to be first in the nation,'" said Brock, "I'm fine with being first in the nation for things like abolishing slavery, but I'm not one who wants to be first in the nation in revamping our healthcare system or economy by doing something nobody has ever done and we don't know if it's going to work or not. I don't think (anyone) would want to be the first person in the nation to have a heart transplant. That's the point that I'm making. You want to have somebody else make the mistakes, and adopt things that are working and reject things that are not. So often, with some of the things we do, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."
"We need to say, how can we create a vibrant economy for the long haul, so that kids like my daughter don't move out of state because pastures appear to be greener someplace else," said Brock, "To do that we have to create a distributed economy that works. We can't have all our development be in one place, that's sort of like making state-based strip mall, which isn't an effective way to govern either. So, we have to look at where there may be strengths and where there may be opportunities."
He said that during his time with Fidelity, he had been charged with finding a location for an operations center in Europe. He spoke with government officials from many countries before settling on Ireland. What stuck with him was the Irish government's attitude toward attracting businesses — "They said, 'Tell us what you want, we're flexible,'" said Brock, "That was the key. It was the attitude of the government that was more striking than any incentive they had to give and their willingness to think outside the box and be flexible to deal with a business that wanted to bring jobs to the country needed to do. It's that flexibility and that human scale that we in Vermont have as an advantage. We're small enough to be nimble and to think outside of that box. We can't be North Carolina and offer people tens of millions of dollars to relocate a factory."
He said Vermont needs to hunt with a rifle, rather than a shotgun, when searching for businesses to bring into the state. He called for targeting outside businesses that would be a good fit for the state, and engaging with business owners who own second homes in the state, who might be willing to expand their businesses to Vermont given the right conditions. Top-down leadership, he said, can only do so much. The middle bureaucracy has to be willing to work with businesses as well, and as lieutenant governor, Brock said he would focus on bringing everyone to the table and facilitating those discussions.
To learn more about Brock's campaign, visit his website at www.randybrock.com.
Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.