Primary Preview: Christine Hallquist

Published: Jul. 10, 2018 at 2:43 PM EDT
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Four Democrats are facing off in next month's Vermont gubernatorial primary. One of them is Christine Hallquist, the former head of the Vermont Electric Cooperative. The transgender woman would be a historic candidate if she wins the nomination, but she says her campaign is focused on her abilities as a leader with proven results.

"If I look at what's happened, our governor's been focusing on division rather than unity and solidarity, and that's not the Vermont that I know and love," Hallquist said.

That's what motivated the former Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO to leave her job and run for governor as a Democrat. She says she helped turn the troubled utility around. "It's a miracle what happened there, but that's because I understand the power of people," Hallquist said.

Now, she says she can help the state change course from the path Gov. Phil Scott has charted.

Reporter Neal Goswami: What do you think sets you apart from Gov. Scott?

Christine Hallquist: Well, I think you see a history of collaboration -- collaborative leadership.

Hallquist in a four-way primary for the party's nomination. Other candidates include clean water advocate James Ehlers, dance festival founder Brenda Siegel and teenager Ethan Sonneborn.

"Politicians can tell you anything, but the key is look at their history. What have they done?" Hallquist said.

She says her long-term vision and record of leadership sets her apart from the others. As does her understanding of the power of people and how to motivate them. "I have a strong history of leadership and doing some pretty miraculous things. So, I have a very strong resume."

She cites Malala Yousafzai and Danica Roem among the people she admires and looks up to as leaders. Roem was elected last year to the Virginia House of Delegate and is also a transgender woman. Hallquist says that isn't what her candidacy is about. "I just happen to be a transgender woman. It's that simple." she said.

Hallquist says, if elected, her first term in office will bring a new comprehensive energy plan to speed up a move to renewables, and seek paid family leave and a minimum wage hike -- both of which Scott vetoed this year. She'll look to reform the education finance system. And she wants to boost the economy by delivering fiber optic connections to rural areas.

"He believes we're on a decline -- we have this demographic shift in Vermont that nothing can be done about. On the contrary, I will connect every home and business with fiber optic cable and we will reverse that demographic shift," Hallquist said.

The primary is on August 14, but early voting has already begun. Tune in to WCAX for stories on the other three Democratic candidates on the ballot in the coming days.