July 25, 2010 -- Two Republicans running for U.S. House-- Chris Roy and Jason Gibbs-- join Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss where they stand on various issues.
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This is you can quote me.
>> Good morning and welcome into you can quote me.
We continue our conversations with the candidates in the primary.
Today we are focusing on the secretary of state's race and the two Republicans who are vying for that job.
We are joined this morning by Chris Roy and also Jason Gibbs.
Thank you both for being here this morning.
We will start with the question, you probably get quite a bit.
We will start with you, Mr. Roy.
Why do you want to be secretary of state?
>> Well, secretary of state is an office that deals with a lot of ‑‑ a lot of aspects of our daily lives as Vermonters that people really haven't been focusing on because there hasn't been a contested race for a long time.
I was approached about a year ago about running for the office and decided since I have been involved in the community for 20 years, I have been urging people to run for office for 20 years, I would be a bit of a hypocrite not to take a look at the it myself and I came to realize that all of the various funks really revolve around something that is always been very important to me and important to Vermonters, especially this year.
Has to do with good honest transparent government from licensing of professionals to working with municipalities, to dealing with campaign and election law, public record, meeting laws and has to do with good, honest open and transparent government.
So about a year ago I decided I would take the plunge and here I am.
>> Mr. Gibbs?
>> Well I would like to be the secretary of state in order to transform that office into a center of excellence in public management.
I think it is an office that do a great deal more than it is today an the the generation of private sector economic activity, it could be significantly more efficient as well as productive.
When you combine the efficiency and productivity in government you get value in government.
That's something that we need both in the secretary of state's office and in in other areas of the the state government.
That's the reason I chose to run.
>> What does that mean?
what needs to be change?
what isn't being done there?
secretary of state's office really isn't an office that maybe Garners a lot of attention a lot of the time.
>> Well I think a couple of key points, fir the office is responsible for the business registration process, corporate licensure, professional licensure, regularly functions in those aerials and those are all areas we can do a better job of creating a more hospitable, economic environment to entrepreneurs who want to create jobs and generate activity in our statement.
Would I team line that process.
There is about 47 steps in it that involves a multiple or multiple agencies within state government.
It is somewhat convoluted and frustrated.
You get bounced around from one department to the next.
Secretary of state can take responsibility for that process and work with our partners in the department of labor and the the department of taxes to not just only simplify but streamline it so that at a minimum, there is a better application of technology, there is less filing of hard copy papers, you can do more of that process on‑line.
The office of secretary of state understands what the steps in that process are that are specific to other areas of state government so they can help guide you through that process.
But I would also like to take the one step further which is to have a discussion with the executive branch and say is there a way for to us put these responsibilities together because they are small pieces of a large and very important process.
Put them all together in one area under one jurisdiction and it doesn't have to be the secretary of state's offers so that if you were entrepreneur there is some department and state government that's responsible from beginning to end for your registration as a business or for at least guiding you through that process and I think we can do that.
Certainly the technological capacity exists and a function of leadership I think.
>> So more technology the answer here?
>> I think technology is part of it but I also think that in order to do a credible job of improving the functioning of the office you need to have had experience dealing with the various areas that the secretary of state is responsible for.
As a practicing attorney for 20 years I have been representing private clients and individuals and businesses around the state.
Dealing with the regulatory process, with the profession license progress, business registration.
I have real handson experience in ways the system works, wails it doesn't work.
And I have specific ideas about how it can be improved.
In addition with respect to the relationship with local officials I have served on a number of local boards, currently an elected member of the Wilson select board and so I approach that question from a perspective not from a Montpelier reaching out to the localities but somebody who is born and raised in Vermont who served on the local level and wants to truly with those local officials.
>> You mentioned earlier you were encouraged to run, got in the race over a year ago or so.
>> I formed an exploratory committee in February of '09 and then announced formally in June.
>> Would you have gotten in if you knew there was going to be a primary?
>> I think so.
Because before ‑‑ you know this is not a decision I have taken on lightly.
I'm a practicing attorney, a father with three boys.
I certainly have no trouble filling my schedule right now.
And before I was willing to run, be it with or without a primary, I spoke to a lot of people and needed to be persuaded that I was the most qualified person for the job.
And I looked at my unique combination of experiences, a law, a commune volunteer, and how that dovetailed with the functions of the office and concluded that that unique mix makes me an equally qualified for the office and think that's the case and I find successful in ‑‑ on the August 24 primary, think that carries through to November.
>> Well there has been ‑‑ also a democratic primary for secretary of state.
Very busy election season and you ‑‑ both of the candidates in that race said if they were elected they would either carry a pager or halfb have someone or their staff carry a pager at all times in case there was a question that came up at an evening meeting about an open meeting law request and been a lot of ambiguity about when towns can go into closed executive sexings.
So both democrats are saying that they would make themselves available to folks in the evening as opposed to the next day when it ties late.
That is something you would do as well Jason Gibbs?
>> I think we would take it to the next technological level with all due respect to the colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Pager is a little bit early '90s.
We could probably at least step it up to cell phone numbers or blackberries.
The underlying premise is ail sound one.
Secretary of state takes more responsibility for helping local officials select board members like Chris, navigate those public records, public meetings laws and provide leadership in those areas.
Part of the challenge we had I think as a ‑‑ is a lack of ‑‑ I don't know it is a lack of certainty or willingness to provide leadership in those aerials but all too often the secretary of state's offers has provided a somewhat ambiguous mealy mouth kind of answer when questions of that nature are brought to ‑‑ brought to that office and I think we need somebody who is going to be willing to weigh in and say my opinion is, that this is subject to the open meeting law or this isn't and then let the sort of chips fall where they may.
>> So you are more technologically savvy so yes you would give ought your cell phone ‑‑
>> The idea of being sure that municipal officials could reach the secretary of state or in the secretary's absence someone from that office 24/7 I think is April reasonable one.
>> Mr. Roy?
>> I think the ‑‑ to some extent this is ignoring the fundamental problem with our public records and public meeting laws.
Right now the statutes are a mess.
The statute itself has well over 50 exceptions, then you go for the various volumes of the statutes and over 200 exceptionles to the various public record and public meeting laws.
And it ‑‑ the question here from my perspective isn't somebody providing a quick decision regarding this confusing mess.
It is fix being the confusing mess so you have Clair' and don't need to call somebody at 10:00 and I think that the way to do that is to get together with the legislature, local officials and other stakeholders, come up with a core statute that sets forth the principles that we as Vermonters want to support as far as public access goals and then have off to the side a set of regulations that might lift specific exams.
The issue is lack of Clair I to.
Not turning around a quick decision.
A quick decision based responsible confusion in the law is quick but there is still confusion.
So that's one person's opinion about the confusion.
Think we need to fix the confusion first and then be accessible going forward.
>> You know and I don't disagree at all.
That is personal reasonable direction to head N there is a trend over the last decade certainly over the last 6, 8 years in particular of consolidate dealing significance‑making not just in the office of secretary of state but across state government, taking decisions and authority out of the hands of municipal officials and moving it to Montpelier.
That's the wrong direction to move in.
I believe that local government is the most efficient and accountable form of government.
I think it is fundamental to our democracy.
there is a clear correlation between the decline and participation rates at town meeting and the lack of significant decisions that are being made at those meetings.
And in the absence of a controversial bond vote or around‑about or something that gets people fired up, our participation rates in town meeting have been anemic at best and the next secretary of state really needs to have the communication skills and the enthusiasm and the energy to motivate Vermonters to not just think about participating in the process, but actually convince them to do so because it is fundamental to who we are as a state and part of that is going to require a secretary of state who can say to the legislature, look, I understand this isn't specific to my area of jurisdiction.
But what you are proposing to do further sub verts local control and it is the wrong direction to move in and that's the kind of leadership I would provide.
>> Also in the open meet being, open records, democratic candidate in the other primary, Jim condo said that he thinks it is wrong that the state is charging the state employees union to look at record and that if he were secretary of state he would move the state in a direction where there is no charge to simply look at the records.
That's the right move?
>> I think so.
You know, the law allows for people to come and look at public records at no cost.
Duplication that you ar loud to charge for if my memory serves me correctly and I think it is reasonable to make those records available to people.
On the other hand, we have to be careful that we are gnat allowing special interest groups in particular to abuse the law where they are using it as an offensive weapon in a political game.
>> How do you decide that?
>> That's probably something we will have to have a conversation with the legislature about but it certainly happens.
Unions and other special interest groups very often will swamp departments and agencies with public records requests as a tactical tool in their effort.
And I think ‑‑
>> You've been on the other end that of because you used to be the governor's spokesman and in some of those public records they were asking for.
>> To be honest with you the entire time that I was on the governor's senior staff which was a period of 6 years as ‑‑ as his senior policy advisor, I cannot recall one time when records had to be retrieved from the governor's office with a freedom of information act request.
I think we were very forthcoming and transparent with records that were specific to that office.
But a lot of times entities, organizations will file those sort of preemptively without asking for the records first.
But my point is, transparency is important, access is important.
We don't want CLF and other organizations to abuse that process to the point where it is costing tax payers an unreasonable amount of money and staff time.
So it is a dell he cat balance bus you know we should ERR on the side of transparency
>> I think again the way you approach that is clarify the law.
Then as it stands right now, public has a right to access to its government's information and documents.
It has to pay for copying.
But the reality is, that depending upon the scope of the request the time limits under the statute are not workable.
And the staff time can be substantial.
But the way you deal with that is on an ad hoc basis.
Again just creating opportunities for conflict and days agreement.
You deal down the front end and clearly lay out the types of requests that cross a threshold after which there may be some appropriate charge for administrative costs.
>> I think it is eye Ron take hear secretary ‑‑ pardon me senator condos or former senator talking about public records requests and transparency in government.
The process privileged debate in the legislature, he was chairman of the senate government operations committee at the time.
And the administration's position was that if we were going to elimination that exemption then we ought to eliminate it all for bran was and levels of government and of course there was a bill that was moved through that legislative process that did in fact do that.
but through senator condos work and other members in the legislature they reversed it secretly as a provision of the state budget.
And ‑‑ pardon me but only for the legislature which allowed the legislature to continue to keep their internal E‑mails, secret, their correspondence with constituents secret.
So to hear senator express some concern about transparency in government is ironic at best
>> You have to win the primary.
other Democrat running
>> One of us is going to square off with him.
>> Both of you have long ties to the Republican party.
Clearly Jason you do and in your work with the governor.
And you have donated and worked behind the scenes for years.
So how are you not going to be part I Zahn?
I can hear it in your answers already.
I used to deal with you a lot when you were the governor's spokesman and you were pushling that point of view.
How will you keep the politics out?
>> I think it is a question of progress.
If you look at my record, the work that I've done with the legislature we succeeded in making a transformation in that organization that few other departments in government have been able to accomplish in a much faster period of time than any department than I'm aware of.
Able to revitalize the states park system.
Invested 8.2 million dollars in capital infrastructure money.
can't achieve that kind of success without good working relationships and the ability to convince people on the merits of the argument that you are making.
I also think it is important to note that while I was commissioner for forests and parks, succeeded in introducing a new new type of public management.
That has produced real results.
It hemmed us reduce our reliance on taxpayers by 30%.
It is 2.1 million dollars or soft taxpayers money that that department is no longer spending.
Productivity also increased.
I would not have been able to administer that kind of new management within our organization without have a productive relationship with the legislature so if you are asking me if I'm a Republican the answer is absolutely question.
I believe in the principles of the Republican party.
I believe in my heart and in my head that less government is better government, that the less intrusion that we have from the government in our private lives, the better off we will be.
But when you talk about public service, there is an obligation to put progress ahead of partisanship and I've demonstrated very clearly my capacity to do that.
>> Christopher is run ‑‑ mer Iman is the other Democrat running for secretary of state.
>> What I would point to, since I have come back to Vermont after going to school, for the last 20 years I have been a Republican, active in the Republican party but sernd on a variety of boards in a nonpartisan fashion.
I have never been elected under a partisan label.
I served on the Burlington planning commission which as you can imagine has folks on it which aren't aligned with the Republican party.
Worked we well and helped them work through an ordinance rewrite back in the early '90s.
Worked on the Vermont environmental board.
Half was dean appointees.
Half of Douglas appointees and worked very well that the board there was to build consensus and come up with what I think were a set of decisions that worked very well in sort of the twilight of the environmental board and then on the en ‑‑ the Wilson select board I have served ‑‑ I've been elected twice.
We have passed two level‑funded budgets and dealt with all the issues and I'm the only Republican on the board but been able to persuade and work with people.
I'm a Republican.
The fact of the matter is Vermonters demand the ability to work towards solutions and not towards working on behalf of one part of the population.
>> All right.
We will take a brief break and continue our conversation with the Republican candidates for secretary of state and get into a little bit about the town of ‑‑ tone of this race in just a minute.
We are talking to the two Republicans who are vying to be secretary of state and take on the Democrat after the primary.
I will start with you Jason Gibbs.
Analysts have said this is the rails that has the most charged feeling to it.
Perhaps bitter, perhaps nasty has been some of the words ha have come from this.
Why do you think that is?
why ‑‑ what is the reason that this race is feeling like that?
my inbox fills up with more E mail from these two.
>> I wouldn't characterize the race.
I think it is competitive and we have two very competitive, very argue, very bright capable candidates who I think frankly either one of us would be good secretary of state.
>> That's your ad right?
>> That's my endorsement.
>> And the truth is, both of us I think want this job and it is certainly been a spirited campaign.
My focus has been on running a very positive issue‑oriented campaign focusing on articulating my vision for that office, making it a center of excellence, to boost its ability to increase economic activity, reduce its reliance on tax payers and introduce this more dynamic type of public management we introduced.
So that's my focus.
We will continue to have I think a very robust debate as the campaign goes on but the primary is 29 days from today.
And we will see how it shakes out.
>> The tone what, do you think of it?
>> I think Jason is right.
You got a couple of argue competitive guys who aren't afraid to state their opinion and I think that's what a primary is supposed to do.
do I think that it is also a matter of the two of us coming at the office from very different directions, my approach and my perspective is an outside Montpelier perspective one based on 20 years of work, volunteering as a professional from outside Montpelier and hoping to be a fresh voice and in Montpelier to help get Vermont back on a more sustainable track and Jason' is more of a perspective from inside government and those different perspectives ‑‑ for instance he uses the phrase entrepreneurial public manage the a lot.
From outside the Montpelier the concept seemed to be an oxymoron.
Entrepreneurship contemplates putting capital at risk.
Governments don't go out of business.
They just increase taxes.
So I don't think ‑‑ that that vision is the vision that I bring from outside Montpelier based upon my real world practical experience.
>> I think that's a very good distinction between us I don't share his view of my position on the issues or that particular definition of the ideas that I'm offering.
But it is true this we have a different approach.
And I think rather than rely on shallow political rhetoric that you can get on the cheap from any political consultant.
I would encourage foamks to look at our ideas, take a real hard look at which one of us is offering the truly transformative proposals that will change the way the office does business in a very positive way.
Increase its productivity.
Increase the value of that office to the people of Vermont and to the constituents.
Specific constituents like licensed professionals or folks trying to create new businesses and jocks.
How are the ideals we are offering going to make it better and be more valuable in service to them.
Take a look at that's ideals and decide for yourself which of us that you think represents the best candidate.
The Republican candidate for second of state and I hope the best candidate in the general election for secretary of state so for mow, entrepreneurial public management means taking the best what of works in the private sector and applying it in a public management sphere to our government enterprises, doing things like going to the aerials where we can make the most difference in determines of again he were rating economic activity, working to prioritize those actions that will reduce the government's reliance on taxpayers.
We rethinking, reforming every process in every system within the public ent price on a regular basis so we can be sure it constitutes the best, most pro growth job creation policy we can put in place.
That's what I mean by public manage many and one thing for me to say we should implement this kind of new management and another thing because politicians say we need to do more with less all the time.
Another thing for me to be able to point to real results.
And I think if you look at my record at forest and parks, I'm a capable executive manager and the only candidate who can point to significant results like reducing our reliance on taxpayers by 30% in a public enterprise.
>> Along those lines, I ‑‑ Jason has pointed out as we go around and follow each other around the state at these various events he reduced his department's reliance an general funds and pointed to that as part of that entrepreneurial management style.
But you know I decided to take a look at the fiscal year '10 and '11 and discovered that his department's budget actual I went up in fiscal year '11 and wondering how did that happen if your reliance goes down on general funds.
LO and beholdith includes over 550 thousand dollars of increased federal funds including over 375 thousand in stimulus funds which are one‑time funds that are being used to prop up a budget.
Put ago side stimulus funds used on the capital side.
There is a fundamental change.
At the municipal level, you can't rely on that.
You need to level fund, deal with property tax burdens, and deal with that on a very fundamental direct level.
So, I do think that there is a problem.
Entrepreneurs can't go up and get stimulus funds.
That's not how you deal with budgets in the real world.
You deal with the real world by coming up with a sustainable way to fund your enterprise.
>> I would suggest with all due respect to my opponent that he go back and take a little bit closer look at those numbers.
The 550 thousand dollars is ‑‑ there is a federal grant that flows into our budget.
Year to year budget from '10 to '11 didn't increase.
A good thing we are not running for auditor because the math there is a little fuzzy.
The ‑‑ the 550 thousand dollars if my memory serves me precisely correct, most of it came from a state and federal forestry grant that we used to invest in the eradication of invasive species throughout the state forest system and parks system.
We used that money to create jobs for Vermonters, not just in that invasive species eradication program but in our park interpreter program which is something that had been previously cut.
Beyond that, however, I think when you look at our general fund taxpayer finance spending the money that the taxpayers of Vermont were providing for out of the general fund, the broad‑based tax revenue, out of state go.
went down by more than 2.1 million dollars an the reason we were able to do that, prioritizing things like timber sales as a counter cyclical economic tool to get more forest products economy activity to keep loggers working, trucks running, sawdust flying in our mills at a time when the forest products economy in Vermont was struggling to weather the great recession.
We also emphasize park visits and park utilizations.
This isn't including the capital ‑‑ Republicans who are vying ‑‑
>> Before we go through your whole record ‑‑
>>> The fact of the matter is, 372,000 in one‑time stimulus funding was included in the operational budge evident of the department that according to the budget bills passed in 2010 went from 18.7 million to 18.8 million.
It was an increased budget in a year with department ‑‑ where departments were asked to cut and had one‑time stimulus fund together tune of 27 ‑‑ 372,000 that was propping up the operational budget.
>> I mean I don't have the benefit of Chris' notes here but I lived through this experience of having to cut our budget and the reality is is that the budget went down about 3.6% over that staple period of time.
But the reason that it wasn't down 10% or 15% or 20% was because of the entrepreneurial management we applied because we were able to gener race nontax revenue to sort of grow more of what we eat.
And I can tell you that the budget did not go up because the budget d if the budget had gone up I won have had to look 6 people in the eye and tell them that we didn't have money in our bubbling tote provide them their jobs and turn their world upside down so with all due respect I know the budget might or my former department very well.
For some reason I think he's arguing that I'm less of a Republican because I accepted stimulus money bus I'm just not buying that.
>> We have less than a minute here.
I'm just curious in that time briefly, are Republicans energized about this race or focused on the governor's race?
>> Republicans are energized about everything right now from top to bottom, local, state reps, up through the gubernatorial and federal races because everybody realizes that 2010 is a crucial year for Vermont if we will get our state back on a sustainable track.
I think Republicans in particular are very interested in what's happening not only in the democratic gubernatorial primary but also in the Lieutenant Governor primary and for secretary of state on our side.
response that I think we have both been getting is an enthusiast inning one and I look forward to moving forward in the campaign.
>> Well thank you both for your time.
Jason Gibbs and Chris Roy, you can go to their web sites if you want to learn more about that.
Next week we will have the democrats in the primary rate for secretary of state.
Until then I'm Kristin Carlson.
Have a great day.