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Candidates Square off in Tunbridge - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Candidates Square off in Tunbridge

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TUNBRIDGE, Vt. - The candidates in the race to be Vermont's next Governor debated the issues Saturday at the Tunbridge World's Fair. It's the first of several scheduled debates as we head towards November's general election.

The Tunbridge World's Fair has it all. Crowds, rides, animals, and plenty of good food. And on this day, a Gubernatorial debate sprinkled into the mix. The Republican nominee and travel business CEO Scott Milne, came out swinging.

"I think Vermonter's are sick and tired of having a state government and a Governor that flies around the country, comes up with a new idea, and talks the legislature into forcing it upon us. Those days are over," Milne said.

The Democratic incumbent and seasoned debater, Governor Peter Shumlin, quickly shot back, saying Milne lacks specifics to his candidacy.

"He did just give us a smidgen on property taxes. The first suggestion ever. I heard him say; 'I'm going to protect local control and I am going to cap property taxes and tell local communities how much they can spend.' You can't have it both ways," Shumlin said.

The debate was broadcast live on WDEV radio and covered health care, Vermont's economy, education, and even child abuse. Governor Shumlin is touting his four years in office.

"I got to tell you I am extraordinarily proud of the work that I have done over the last four years," Shumlin said.

But Milne says, under Shumlin's leadership, Vermont is gaining the reputation as a bad place to do business.

"I have a lot of respect for Peter Shumlin, I have a lot of respect for what he has accomplished in his life. I just don't think he is a good Governor," Milne said.

Crowds gathered on the fairgrounds to listen to the candidates. For some voters this contest is as much about knowing what they do NOT want as it is picking a winner.

"Because I haven't decided who I am going to vote for but I definitely decided who I am not going to vote for," said Robert Childs of Tunbridge.

It's race where the polls say is Shumlin's to lose. A recent CBS POLL showed Milne gaining, but Shumlin with a 10 point lead.

"We are making some real progress. We have a lower unemployment rate compared to other states. Our economy is coming back faster than some," Shumlin said.

"It is going to be a much more balanced approach coming from the Governor's office and controlling the legislature in 2015 if I am successful," Milne said.

A debate that was at times muffled by the announcer from the nearby showing arena. A setting where politicians are welcome, yet will never take center stage.

"I think when I look back at my life, this will be a highlight," Milne said.

"I love this fair and it is a real opportunity to get out and talk to Vermonters," Shumlin said.

Two other candidates joined Milne and Shumlin for the debate. Dan Feliciano, who is running as a Libertarian, and Emily Peyton, who is running as an Independent. Peyton used much of her closing remarks to highlight hemp.

"If you can make clothes out of hemp, if you can make hard plastics out of hemp, if you can reduce your arthritis because of hemp, if you can make insulation out of hemp, what is silly about that," Peyton said.

"We need to reduce the size of government and get government out of people lives, we can do so by stopping single payer, cutting spending and cutting property taxes those are the key themes that are keeping our ecomony from growing," Feliciano said.

Both Feliciano and Peyton already lost to Milne in the Republican Primary.
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