With the Aug. 9 primaries fast approaching, Vermont News & Media sent a questionnaire out to candidates with three questions: 1) What qualifications make you the best candidate for this office? 2) What are the three most important issues or challenges going forward and how would you address them? and 3) What Vermont traditions do we need to preserve in the Green Mountain State? Their responses will be published over the next two weeks.
Patricia Preston, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor
Qualifications: Working as president and CEO of the Vermont Council on World Affairs for over a decade has provided me with the knowledge and experience required to serve as lieutenant governor. Overseeing federal funding instilled a sense of fiscal responsibility and the ability to maximize impact while spending economically. Consequently, the organization increased its revenue by 130 percent under my leadership.
My experience at the VCWA has taught me the value of facilitating civil discourse amongst Vermonters of all backgrounds. In doing so, I gained a broad understanding of affairs ranging in scope from hyper-local to global through the eyes of a broad set of Vermonters. My ability to facilitate conversations by drawing on multiple perspectives will prove invaluable as I work towards dismantling divisions between Vermonters across our states.
Vermont is at a critical turning point. We need leadership in Montpelier that understands how to address these issues and ensures future generations can grow and thrive. Unlike my opponents, I’m a political outsider who represents a generation able to confront modern challenges with modern ideas.
Issues and challenges: Vermont is experiencing an outright affordability crisis. The resulting complications reverberate from individuals into their communities and on to the state’s economy.
Hardworking Vermont families should not have to make life-altering financial sacrifices to fulfill basic needs such as gas, groceries, childcare, and housing. I will employ my resources to ensure that all Vermonters’ needs are met in a way that does not consume their finances. Addressing this issue will not be easy, but an unprecedented influx of federal funding will help finance childcare programs and modernize Act 250, so more housing can be responsibly built.
Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives and livelihoods. Our window of opportunity to address this crisis is closing – we must act now. When in office, I will advocate for plans that facilitate Vermont’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. To this end, I am committed to doubling our effort to expand our renewable energy production from solar to wind in ways that promote economic growth. With help from multiple stakeholders, we will cultivate a green jobs workforce that ensures future generations can enjoy the natural beauty of the Green Mountains.
Rural communities, such as the one I grew up in, are the backbone of Vermont. It is unacceptable that Vermonters living in such communities lag behind other parts of the state. Strengthening our rural communities by providing broadband access, workforce development, and developing a school-to-career pipeline will help eliminate geographical disadvantages.
Vermont is a tapestry of small towns and communities, each with its own identity and spirit. We must find ways to attract people to our rural communities. Barriers such as broadband access, childcare, and limited job opportunities pose a tremendous challenge for current residents and anyone attempting to move to rural parts of Vermont. I will support these towns by forging partnerships to speed up workforce development, drive industry to rural communities, and ensure access to affordable housing and child care.
Vermont traditions: I grew up attending and actively participating in field days. Field days play a vital role in promoting agricultural literacy and provide insight into Vermont’s unique cultural heritage.