Candidates for Vt. lieutenant governor face off at the fair

TUNBRIDGE, Vt. (WCAX) At the Tunbridge World's Fair, there is a little bit of everything -- rides, food, animals, and yes, a little bit of politics. Thursday, the two major party candidates running for lieutenant governor squared off in a debate.

The debate, hosted by WDEV, touched on many different topics including affordable housing, gun control, marijuana regulation, and raising the minimum wage.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, P/D-Vermont, is seeking his second term. He supports a $15 minimum wage. His opponent, House Minority Leader Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, says increasing the minimum wage could hurt Vermont in the long run.

"It could have a negative consequence on the economy, cost thousands of jobs and really harm people. People who want to work and want to go to work will be really harmed by this," Turner said.

When it comes to Act 250, Vermont's land use and development law, both candidates said they support it, though Turner said it can often be burdensome.

"We are sitting right here in Tunbridge where Act 250 may very have been the tool that protected this community and this rural part of Vermont from a massive massive development," Zuckerman said.

Taxes seemed to be the area of biggest disagreement.

"Republicans love to borrow money instead of paying for things as we go," Zuckerman said. He supports raising taxes on the wealthy to help make education more affordable. He also supports a discussion about a carbon tax, which Turner is against.

Rep. Don Turner: Have you ever opposed raising a tax?
Lt. Governor David Zuckerman: I don't support raising taxes that are regressive.

After the debate was over, both candidates elaborated on the tax issue. Turner says he's been fighting for lower taxes his entire career. "The lieutenant governor, in contrast, has proposed hundreds of millions of new taxes in his legislative career and continues to believe that Vermonters can afford more," he said.

"Yes, I've also supported raising taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for some of those services, rather than cutting some of those services for working people, which is often the alternative that sometimes my opponents and the republicans absentmindedly neglect to speak about," Zuckerman said.

When asked how he would lower the cost of education without raising taxes, Turner said schools need to run more efficiently and the state needs to work with teachers to save money on pensions and health care. "You have to find efficiencies within the system, such as using teachers in multiple districts," Turner said.

"A regular republican response is efficiencies, but they rarely actually produce them," Zuckerman added.

For those who didn't get their fill of politics Thursday, the two major party candidates running for governor will square off at the fair on Friday.