Candidates for Vermont governor debate on WCAX
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We are just over four weeks away from Election Day, and Thursday night, candidates for Vermont governor debated a variety of topics at the WCAX News studio.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott and his Democratic challenger, Brenda Siegel, offered dueling solutions to the state’s most pressing issues and made their case for your vote.
Scott and Siegel outlined their visions of how to solve issues facing Vermonters and traded jabs over their track records. They fielded a variety of questions from addressing affordability to the overdose crisis to child care to government spending.
“We have to do things like have a progressive tax structure where the wealthy pay their fair share,” Siegel said.
Vermont’s problems, Scott contends, are borne out of a declining demographic and the pressure it puts on economic growth.
He contends making Vermont affordable starts by taxing less, something he says he’s been focused on for years.
“We’re already one of the highest taxed states in the country. I don’t know how much more people can bear,” Scott said.
Siegel says investments in social programs like paid family and medical leave will attract workers and improve lives.
“We have to look at the cost of having people out of the force versus how we attract people to the workforce,” Siegel said.
The housing crisis is top of mind for both candidates.
Scott points to millions earmarked for units up and down the income spectrum, saying building the necessary housing will take time.
Siegel says Vermont needs an action plan beginning with housing those at risk of homelessness.
Public safety and policing also draw distinctions.
Scott says his administration is working to solve staffing challenges statewide while Siegel says Vermont needs to invest in underlying issues of mental health and substance use.
Scott and Siegel also draw differences in how they would build and allocate money in the state budget.
Brenda Siegel: We have some major crises because Vermont has become less and less affordable and that’s the work that we need to do.
Phil Scott: That sounds like a criticism of the Legislature.
Brenda Siegel: No, it’s a criticism of you.
And a clash over climate policy-- Siegel criticized the governor on his veto of the clean heat standard, a major climate bill to cut down on thermal emissions. The dust-up eventually highlighted disagreements between Scott and Statehouse Democrats.
Phil Scott: They need to take testimony.
Brenda Siegel: They take testimony.
Phil Scott: Then why weren’t they willing to do this?
Brenda Siegel: The constant disrespect to our legislators is something that’s a big concern that I have.
Phil Scott: They were putting a carbon tax to the PUC, that’s what they were doing.
Ultimately, Scott says a vote for him is a vote for civility in politics and for affordability, economic growth and protecting vulnerable Vermonters.
Siegel argues the status quo is not working for Vermonters and that the state needs new policies on housing, substance use and climate change.
A recent poll by the University of New Hampshire commissioned by WCAX News asked about the governor’s race. It showed that if the election were held this week, Scott would capture 48% of the vote compared to Siegel’s 31%, 13% are undecided.
Watch the full debate in the player below.
There are still more debates on the way from WCAX News.
- 10/6 Gubernatorial debate
- 10/12 Lt. gov. debate
- 10/18 Congressional debate
- 10/26 Senate debate
The debates all start at 7 p.m. and last an hour.
Our 6 p.m. broadcast will only be half an hour on those nights.
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