Primary Preview: Keith Stern
We are profiling the candidate ahead of the upcoming primary. Meet Keith Stern, who is challenging Gov. Phil Scott for the Republican nomination.
Stern says unlike past political runs, he's in this race to win. And he says the stakes of this election are very high.
Stern says he's running for governor for the money.
"It's the money we are being overtaxed. It's the money, the high cost of living in the state," he said.
Stern has owned a produce stand in White River Junction for more than three decades. He does not consider himself a politician, but he has run for statewide office in the past, unsuccessfully challenging both Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.
"I got my ideas heard. I never campaigned at all but I got into the debates and people heard what I had to say," Stern said.
For this election, he has a dire message. He says Vermont's current path forward is not sustainable.
"The thing is, there is so many people that can't afford taxes in this state. To celebrate, here you go, we are not going to raise, not make it any more unaffordable for you, that is it not an answer," Stern said.
Taxes are a big part of his platform. Stern supports President Trump's tax reform efforts and says the Green Mountain State needs to cut taxes, as well. He differs from the president on newly imposed international tariffs, saying new taxes only hurt the consumer.
But unlike Governor Scott, Stern would not make his opposition to the president public in Montpelier.
"He doesn't need to be, like anybody else, openly criticizing the president," Stern said. "First of all, it's not effective. Second of all, it just makes the state look bad."
Stern points to Scott's efforts to protect immigrants. The Springfield resident says the state already doesn't have the resources to support those who are here legally.
Stern, a Johnson State graduate, also blasts the new gun restrictions signed into law by the governor.
"The U.S. Constitution, the Vermont Constitution, they both say you will not touch people's gun rights," Stern said. "He did."
If elected, Stern says he plans to get innovative, like making people on government assistance do community service and taking a new look at age-old problems like icy highways in the winter.
"Treat wood chips, put it on the roads. They say it is more effective than salt," he said.
One of many ideas he says will help Vermonters down the road.