TOWNSHEND—A former U.S. ambassador and two-time state senator for Windham County, Peter Galbraith, entered the Vermont gubernatorial race today.
Galbraith, a Democrat, says his campaign will focus in part on improving economic justice in Vermont.
Like economic justice and income inequality, there are issues critical to the state that the other candidates aren’t talking about, he said.
Voters shouldn’t expect him to make grand campaign promises, Galbraith warned.
Galbraith said that if elected, he would focus on the issues over which the state has direct control.
One such issue? Raising the minimum wage immediately to $12.50 per hour, with scheduled incremental raises to $15 per hour.
The most direct way to spur the economy and help with affordability is for people to have more money in their pockets, Galbraith said. Lower- and middle-income earners tend to spend their dollars in their local economy, he asserted.
In an interview on Monday, Galbraith told The Commons that he aims to get special-interest money out of politics.
He said he would do so by advocating a new campaign-finance policy for legislators with respect to money from special-interest groups and by updating the tax code so it treats wageearners more fairly. Right now, Galbraith believes Vermont’s tax codes favor the lobbyists.
Galbraith said that while he served as state senator — he served two terms, from 2011 to 2014 — lobbyists regularly attended committee meetings. Sometimes they spoke more than the senators, he observed.
Regular citizens don’t have that type of access to their legislators, he said — they have to work.
Vermont can’t compete on taxes because of its location next door to sales-tax-free New Hampshire, Galbraith said — nor can it compete on low labor costs with a state like Mississippi.
Still, in Galbraith’s opinion, Vermont has gems of its own: a sense of community, low crime, a willingness to protect the environment, strong schools, and good health care.
People want those things, too, and will move here for them, he said, urging Vermonters to protect what the state offers.
“It’s such a special place,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything like it.”