VT Governor Candidate campaigns with celebrity

Staff Report

Alek Fleury

Democratic candidate for Vermont governor Christine Hallquist and actor Misha Collins discussed campaign issues in front of a crowd of students Wednesday in the Davis Center at a UVM College Democrats’ event.
Hallquist made history as the first openly transgender candidate to win a major party’s nomination for governor. Collins is best known for his role on the the TV show “Supernatural.”
Hallquist spoke to a packed Frank Livak Room about the state of public education and young people in Vermont, outlining a “blueprint” to provide financially accessible college education to Vermont residents.
“Youth don’t have the opportunity today they had years ago,” she said. “So it is my moral responsibility for you to get the same opportunity I did.”
The proposed education platform includes free college education for children of families below the poverty line, Hallquist said.
She hopes to later allow children of families at 200 percent of the poverty line to go to college for free, she said.
The cost of college has risen 1,100 percent since 1978, Hallquist said.
“My generation screwed this up,” she said. “I still have the opportunity to fix this before I leave this planet.”
Hallquist decided to run for office in 2017 when she heard four high school students read poetry they had written about the harassment they faced as Muslims from other Vermont residents, she said.
Sophomore Allyson Werner was underwhelmed by Hallquist’s answers, and that Hallquist did not include an incentive for out of state students to stay in Vermont, Werner said.
Werner’s main draw to the event was Collins, since she is a fan of his show, she said.
Collins reached out to Hallquist’s campaign to set up the combined event, Hallquist said.
“Misha is quite an activist, using his fame to make positive change,” she said.
Collins has been campaigning at New England colleges recently in an effort to increase student voter turnout, he said.
“Young people historically tend to be losers when it comes to voting,” Collins said. “You guys have a real opportunity here to change the landscape of our government by voting and getting those you know to vote and critically by actually staying informed.”
It is important for the Democratic Party to win elections at the state level in order to resist the policies of the White House and promote a progressive agenda, Collins said.
Collins also commended Hallquist, who is the first openly transgender major party nominee for governor in any state, for inspiring young transgender people.
“I think it’s really inspiring to an entire generation of young trans people to see someone in your position taking the reins of power and using your voice,” Collins said.
It is important for people to know who Hallquist is, not just at UVM or in Vermont, but nationwide because her candidacy as a transgender woman is a huge deal, said sophomore Sally Short, UVM College Democrats secretary.
“Nothing is impossible when you’re on the side of justice,” Hallquist said.