Candidates debate safety

A gubernatorial debate between Democrat Scudder Parker and Republican Incumbent Jim Douglas was held in Billings Wed. Oct. 25 in front of an intimate audience of just over fifty people. Audience members consisted mainly of UVM political science students and professors. WPTZ News Anchor Thom Hallock moderated the debate and asked the candidates questions, along with news anchor Stephanie Gorin. Most of the questions asked came from the political science students. Candidates alternatively answered questions with a one minute and thirty second response. The other candidate then had a thirty second rebuttal. There were no opening statements, but each candidate had a minute and thirty seconds to say closing remarks. During the debate’s hour long time slot, many issues were addressed including the death of Michelle Gardner-Quinn. “When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs we all feel our share of grief,” Douglas said. “I think we need to do more.” Douglas listed several measures to increase safety and decrease crime, including one involving the sex offender registry. Parker expressed his sympathies to the UVM community and family. He also explained what he would do to prevent future tragedy. Also addressed were issues of healthcare, property tax, education, renewable energy, employment, college tuition and gay marriage. “Can the state make a commitment to affordable, high quality healthcare for all Vermonters?” Parker asked. “As Governor, I can make that commitment.”Douglas said that the Catamount Health healthcare plan he helped develop is evidence of progress in terms of attaining more affordable and higher quality healthcare for Vermonters. “I have a very clear vision of what I want for the future of this state,” Douglas said. “Very simply, I want to make sure that each generation of Vermonters is more prosperous than the generation that comes before.” Parker made it clear throughout the debate that he was not pleased with Douglas’s leadership as governor for the two terms he has held the position. “I think that Jim Douglas has really failed to provide the leadership required,” Parker said. “He’s failed to provide the leadership, make the tough decisions and to identify the tough decisions.””I’ve had a wide range of experiences in Vermont,” said Parker. “I know the land; I care about farming and agriculture.” Douglas mentioned the twenty years he has spent as a town meeting moderator in Vermont in addition to his experience in the state legislature.”I think it’s very important that we remember the essence of Vermont’s original democratic system of self government,” said Douglas. “That’s something that’s very precious to the Green Mountain State.” Douglas said that he felt he performed well in the debate but would not comment on Parker’s performance when questioned after the event.