Primary Preview: Brenda Siegel

Published: Jul. 17, 2018 at 2:46 PM EDT
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Brenda Siegel is among four Democrats running for Vermont governor on the Aug. 14 primary ballot. The Newfane resident says she examined Vermont's elected officials and didn't see herself represented, so she launched a campaign for governor.

"I found out of course that I'm not reflected at all -- not locally, not statewide and not nationally. That's what started my interest. However, it's not what eventually got me there," Siegel said.

The self-described low-income mom says it's her knowledge of how to address poverty and save taxpayer money that drew her into the race. "That's something that throughout my adult life and throughout my experiences as a mom I have really recognized and noticed and really wanted to speak out about," Siegel said.

In her bid to challenge Republican Gov. Phil Scott this fall, she must first go up against four other challengers seeking the Democratic nomination. They include former utility executive Christine Hallquist, clean water advocate James Ehlers and teenager Ethan Sonneborn are also seeking the Democratic nomination.

"I have the strongest vision for the state. I have a really strong plan for what I want to do when I get there. It's been developed through years of spending a lot of time in the Statehouse and working on issue-based initiatives as well as my own experience," Siegel said.

She says Scott hasn't followed through on a core campaign promise and that his vetoes of a minimum wage increase and paid family leave will harm vulnerable Vermonters. "He promised to protect the most vulnerable. Here I am -- he did not protect my family," she said.

Siegel's plan to address opioid abuse is bold. It calls for harm reduction measures including safe injection sites, clean needle exchanges and treatment on demand. It goes further than any of her fellow candidates. The issue is personal for her after losing a brother and nephew to opiates. "We know what best practices work, so we really have to begin to be bold in the changes we make," she said.

Siegel says her first term will focus on reversing Scott's vetoes and addressing the opioid epidemic. "There are parts of all of my plans that can be implemented pretty quickly -- right away -- and there are parts that will have to be implemented over time and with funding sources," she said.