Scott, Hallquist take part in first debate at World's Fair
The annual World's Fair in Tunbridge runs through Sunday, and part of the tradition is educating voters about the candidates running for public office. Friday morning it was the first one-on-one gubernatorial debate between incumbent Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist.
Broadcast by WDEV Radio, the two candidates for governor sat under the gazebo with a scattering of people watching. Though most fairgoers continued on with the festivities, unaware of the debate up on the hill.
For over an hour the two debated on issues ranging from family leave to gun control, and the economy. Raising of the minimum wage drew a sharp contrast between the candidates.
"As you know, I did not support the raise -- artificially raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour -- because it does put many areas at risk, particularly the rural areas of the state," Scott said.
"So we've seen this systematic attack on the working class -- by the way, a two bedroom to live in takes $22 an hour," Hallquist said.
Act 46, the consolidation of schools in Vermont, drew another clear difference, Scott saying young people aren't moving to Vermont because of the high cost of living. Hallquist had a different point of view, saying the state needs the schools to attract families. "Because when a school closes, essentially people are not going to move there," she said.
"We have 30,000 fewer students than we did two decades ago. We have to address that. We're spending a-billion-seven to educate around 75,000 thousand students," Scott said.
Taxing pot was another area of difference. "Oh, I absolutely believe we need to be a tax and regulated marijuana market as quickly as possible," Hallquist said.
"Yeah, I don't believe we're ready for that tax and regulated system at this point in time. We should be investing more in early education and prevention," Scott said.
Both agreed Act 250, Vermont's land use law, is working.
Hallquist thanked Scott for signing gun control measures into law after an 18-year-old threatened to shoot up Fair Haven Union High last February.
In the end, neither opponent took the gloves off, but there will more debates before the election on November 6th. "I think it was very informative," Scott said.
"Phil and I were very respectful," Hallquist added.