Alums run for Lt. Gov position

Lieutenant governor candidates came to UVM April 23

 

UVM hosted a forum April 23 in the Livak Ballroom of the Davis Center, where three candidates running for Vermont’s lieutenant governor position answered questions about issues like education and economic reform.

 

Former state Sen. Randy Brock, state Rep. Kesha Ram ‘08 and state Sen. David Zuckerman answered questions from moderator Meredith Niles and the audience about student debt, competing land use, affordable housing and refugees.

 

The forum was sponsored by United Academics, UVM’s faculty union.

 

Throughout the debate, Brock stressed the importance of job creation and increased “economic value” in Vermont by creating a Vermont “brand” which could be marketed outside of the state.

 

Ram focused on creating “flexible” pathways for Vermont residents to become “lifelong learners,” like making education and housing more affordable and for low-income households. She also called for working together with diverse groups of people concerning issues like the expansion of renewable energy programs.

 

Zuckerman advocated for protecting in-state students from rising tuition, learning and working together in a “holistic way,” affordable housing and lower energy use in homes. He also recommended raising the minimum wage and said he “strongly” supports a $15 minimum wage.

 

When asked by Niles about possible solutions for student debt, Ram described education as  “our greatest economic development and importer of talent,” and that it needs to be “prioritized” in the state budget. One of her recommendations was to remove the sales tax on textbooks to increase textbook affordability.

 

Brock said, student debt is “part of a much larger problem and shouldn’t be looked at in isolation,” and that the focus should be on economic development. He recommended creating more jobs and avoiding “increasing the burden on Vermont taxpayers.”

 

Zuckerman stressed the importance of getting more money into the education system and mentioned that cannabis reform “brings more people, resources and dollars to Vermont.” He also said that the “counter” of people involved with drugs is “hope for a brighter future, and education is one of those things.”

 

Several audience members were satisfied with the forum.

 

“I’m really honored the candidates took the time to come out here,” senior Julie Elfin said. “I think they all have a lot to offer, especially because they are all alums of Vermont colleges and care about issues that matter to the student body.”

 

Most of the audience were faculty, and few students attended.

 

“It has to be acknowledged that we are the only students here,” Elfin said. “That is a real shame.”