BRATTLEBORO -- Emily Peyton is persistent. Having failed twice as an independent candidate for governor, the Putney resident this time is running as a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the Aug. 26 primary.

Peyton also has signed on as an independent candidate for the general election, and she is seeking write-in votes from other parties. It's all tied into Peyton's desire to be the state's top administrator rather than a legislator.

"If the ship is headed for an iceberg, why sign on as crew?" she asked. "A governor is an administrator -- at the helm, so to speak. And I believe we need to turn the ship in a different direction."

To get the GOP nomination for governor, Peyton would have to defeat party favorite Scott Milne of Pomfret and another challenger, Steve Berry of Wolcott.

Given Peyton's causes -- which include heavy reliance on hemp, establishment of a state bank and free health clinics -- her affiliation with the Republican party might be a mismatch. But Peyton said her decision was driven in part by a dissatisfaction with what she sees as the marginalization of independent candidates.Running on the Democratic primary ticket are Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is seeking a third term, and H. Brooke Paige of Washington. Also on the primary ballot is Liberty Union candidate Pete Diamondstone of Brattleboro.

"I said, ‘OK, I'm doing this work, and I'm not getting anywhere. I'm not getting anywhere because the press isn't validating my presence,'" Peyton said. "So I needed to choose the weakest party and strengthen it.


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She adds, though, that "I didn't want to choose any party. I'm an independent. The parties have failed us miserably. The adversarial party system prohibits collaboration, and it also prohibits equal participation by independents."

Peyton said she does not believe leaders should affiliate themselves with a political party or group.Labels, she said, "aren't useful to define a person in any way. They confine. They don't support growth and change."

Change is what Peyton has consistently lobbied for in regards to hemp, a plant that she believes holds the key to curing many ills.

"If America grows hemp with the very same enthusiasm that we raced to the moon, we would end our economic problems," she said. "We'd end our energy problems."

But varying governmental regulations are obstacles to that goal. Federal law still prohibits cultivation of hemp, though Vermont in 2013 adopted a law authorizing the plant's cultivation and production.

Those who wish to grow hemp have to register with the state Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Peyton said she has completed that registration; when she came to the Reformer for an interview recently, she carried a hemp plant and touted its many benefits.

"Hemp has enormous capacity to give us a name, to give us a manufacturing base, give us new jobs, give us green jobs," Peyton said. "We could be building with hemp in a way that saves us 50 percent or more of our heating fuels. That's like getting 50 percent more energy for free."

As governor, Peyton would support development of a hemp industry and hemp products.

"It's so good in every manner that it's really negligent of the current administration not to take a minuscule amount from the budget and put it into hemp research and development in the colleges," she said.

Without that investment, she said, "where are we going to get a demand for the crop? Who are going to be the entrepreneurs? Who are going to be the people who create the chocolate ice cream, who create the snow boards, who create the pens? Where are they coming from, and why allow the farmers to grow it without that?"

Peyton took positions on a variety of other topics including:

Marijuana

"I believe we need to be legal to grow," Peyton said. "Its potential as a medical plant is huge to replace our opiate addiction. We should be having research and development on its curative powers. And as far as people smoking it, I would prefer that they grew what they smoked."

Health care

Peyton wants a more efficient, effective system that includes rewards for healthy habits; she also wants to address "the over-stressors that lead to such extensive care demands."

"It will also include better bargaining power for needed services and opening simple clinics with a minimum of the health-care budget," she said. "It will also include strict (limits) on opiate prescription practices and stricter oversight of all psychiatric-medicating practices."

Energy

"Everywhere that we're using petrochemicals, we are defiling our environment, which means higher health costs," Peyton said. "We are also harming ourselves with the big wind up north."

She favors development of new solar and wind technology.

"In general, we want to encourage each community to be self-sufficient energetically -- each household," Peyton said. "And of course, this means a different sort of distribution of wealth, because dependency on central utilities means wealth for utility owners. And I'm more interested in the wealth and health of the people than centralized utilities."

Peyton added that "what we ought to be doing in order to be a stronger state is to have smaller grids, communitywide grids, that can be fed into by solar."

Education

Peyton wants more school choice and more independence among schools. Adoption of common standards, she said, "is extremely damaging to our future as individuals."

"Our goal needs to be changed in education. And our one goal is for the joy of learning, the excitement of learning -- that light to be fueled in every child, she said

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The campaign is online at www.emilypeyton.org.