WESTMINSTER — There is a clear choice in the upcoming Democratic Aug. 9 primary election. This is a pivotal time in Vermont's history when we need to take stock so we can address effectively the challenges we face as a state.
This is why I support Sue Minter for our next governor. Sue has been working for Vermonters for the last 15 years, and she understands the challenges that we all face, including the challenges facing our environment.
Eleven years ago, when we both served in the Vermont House of Representatives, Sue had passion and the ability to work with Vermonters as she tackled challenges head on and delivered results for all of us.
Sue has the experience and cooperative style that we need to make Vermont work. When she has a vision, she creates a plan and executes that plan. She has done so throughout my entire experience working with her.
While she served in the Legislature, Sue worked productively across party lines to construct strong legislation that upgraded our roads and bridges. After Irene, stranded and isolated Vermonters counted on Sue as Irene recovery officer to rebuild the state quickly. She did so, and in ways that made Vermont more resilient to flooding in the future.
During Sue's time leading the Agency of Transportation, she asked people to think in new ways to overcome inefficiencies in government so we could hasten the rebuilding of our transportation infrastructure.
My experiences with Sue tell me that when she proposes something on the campaign trail - like a way to put more Vermont students in college or to continue the effort to protect our environment - she will do it.
As governor, Sue will deftly guide Vermont into the future. It is imperative Vermont elect a governor with not just a vision for what our state can become, but also one who knows how to build a road to get there. Sue has the experience, style, and skill to make that vision a reality.
For lieutenant governor, my choice is Shap Smith.
I have the great privilege to serve in the Vermont House and that brings me into direct contact with all of the candidates running in this race. Shap's experience and his demonstrated leadership skills have better prepared him for the role.
It takes a steady and patient hand to move the House toward productive goals. Shap has done so as House Speaker successfully for six years.
In that role, Shap has no power other than what his peers give to him. The House is the most egalitarian body in Vermont; we all get there the same way, so we are all equals. Because of Shap's imagination, hard work, and willingness to listen to his peers, we entrusted him with the gavel.
Part of any speaker's job is to facilitate House debates and run them fairly according to the rules that govern our activities. Shap has done this par excellence. His friendly demeanor and firm determination to enforce the rules fairly have gained him appropriate praise from members of the House, regardless of their political party.
The speaker must know virtually everything that is going on in the House, including understanding the issues each of the 14 standing committees is addressing and how those issues are progressing toward resolution. Shap might be the most knowledgeable individual in the state other than the governor about the full spectrum of issues facing Vermont.
That makes Shap the clear choice if you think that the lieutenant governor has two jobs: chairing the Senate, and serving as governor (for both the short term, when the governor is out of state, and - should a governor ever die in office again - for the long term).
Shap's fair running of the House and his broad exposure to all aspects of government as speaker has prepared him for the role.
I highly recommend Sue Minter and Shap Smith.