Campaign Countdown: Meet the candidates for Vermont attorney general
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a year of change in Vermont politics, with open seats in six of eight statewide offices. That includes attorney general, a position left open when T.J. Donovan decided not to run again after six years on the job.
In the primary elections in August, Charity Clark defeated Rory Thibault by a 30-point margin to win the Democratic nomination for the job.
The GOP selected Michael Tagliavia as their candidate, replacing the placeholder primary winner, H. Brooke Paige.
Now, the race to become Vermont’s next top prosecutor is on.
Democrat Charity Clark has worked in the attorney general’s office for the last eight years, most recently as Donovan’s chief of staff. She believes her experience sets her apart.
“I believe we need an attorney general who understands the depth and breadth of the office and can leverage the office for the best results for Vermonters,” Clark said.
Republican Michael Tagliavia was recruited by the GOP to run in the general election replacing the placeholder candidate H. Brooke Paige.
Tagliavia is from Long Island but moved to Corinth in 2015. He is not a lawyer and does not hold a law degree, and he says that will breathe new life into the office.
“I know the difference between right and wrong. No, I’m not an attorney. I think because I can bring a fresh perspective, maybe I can break the echo chamber effect,” Tagliavia said.
Clark says she wants to ensure the state’s criminal justice system reflects Vermonters’ values, with a focus on protecting consumers, and attention toward domestic violence prevention and criminal justice reform.
“I believe we need to expand our sealing and expungement bill which will help folks with old criminal records get those records sealed so they can move on with their lives and get a better job,” Clark said.
Tagliavia says he wants to take a more punitive approach. He says his priorities are curbing the overdose crisis, addressing a rise in crime and advocating for law enforcement.
“They need the funding and the training and the support of the community so they can get their job done safely. I think they are part of the solution to a problem that we have,” Tagliavia said.
Both candidates agree on the issue of protecting consumers and addressing the opioid crisis by providing greater access to treatment.
“We need to have wraparound services and mental health counseling and treating the whole person,” Clark said.
“We need to be able to be in a position-- and the attorney general’s office, specifically the criminal division if need be-- to put them in a position where they need to make a choice: incarceration or get the help that they need,” Tagliavia said.
Gov. Phil Scott appointed Susanne Young to fill the attorney general’s seat for the remainder of Donovan’s term. The winner on Nov. 8 will take office in January.
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