Campaign Countdown: Meet the candidates for Vermont governor

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 4:25 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s a little over five weeks to Election Day, when Vermonters will weigh in on who should hold the state’s top job. Incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott is facing a challenge from Progressive/Democrat Brenda Siegel. Both candidates agree on many of the challenges facing Vermont but they offer drastically different visions of how to solve them.

Governor Phil Scott is seeking a fourth term in office. The Republican is a familiar face in Vermont politics, having served in the state senate and as lieutenant governor. Raised in Barre, Scott owned and operated Dubois Construction for many years before he was elected governor. And he continues to dabble in stock car racing at Thunder Road.

“Whether it’s in business or politics or racing, it’s all the same approach from my perspective,” Scott said.

For years, the moderate Republican has highlighted Vermont’s shrinking workforce and aging demographics as the greatest challenges facing the state. Tackling the interconnected problems he argues begins with knocking down the tax burden and finding efficiencies in state government.

“The one thing that we can do is allow people to keep more of what they earn, to not tax them more than we have to,” he said.

Scott’s challenger, Brenda Siegel calls herself an advocate, educator, small business owner, and single mom. The Brattleboro ran unsuccessfully for both governor in 2018 and lieutenant governor in 2020. She contends the status quo is not serving Vermonters and wants to see big changes made on climate change, the overdose crisis, and housing policies.

“No matter who you are in this state, there is no mobility right now. It’s not good for our communities, it’s not good for our workforce,” Siegel said.

She has never held public office but she has played an inside role at the Statehouse, working on issues relating to substance use, homelessness, and public transportation. She says her work is informed by her lived experience of having faced poverty as well as the death of her nephew to an overdose. “It really drove me, not only by my own story, but the people I’ve met along the way, and making sure that the folks that have these experiences have a voice,” she said.

Emerging from the pandemic, Scott and Siegel have different visions of how to solve the state’s problems, from crime to addiction, and health care to housing. Vermont’s response to all has been propped up by over a billion dollars in federal aid. That cash is ending and state economists are predicting turbulent economic times ahead.

Scott has stressed investing in brick-and-mortar infrastructure and new workforce programs that will set the state on solid footing. “To utilize the money as an investment, with the best return on investment as possible, rather than just spending it,” Scott said.

Siegel says strategic investments in housing, drug treatment, and climate change mitigation set Vermont up for sustainability.

Scott is widely seen as the favorite heading into November. He’s enjoyed such a high approval rating among Democrats that Siegel faced no challengers in her primary. She acknowledges the steep climb but adds she is up for the challenge. “I know that there are Vermonters across the state that have to get up and fight Anyways even though it is hard,” she said.

Bernard Peters, Kevin Hoyt, and Peter Duval will also appear on the November ballot as Independents.