“Pete” and “Jim” Debate

On Tuesday, October 19 Governor James Douglas and Mayor Peter Clavelle met at the in Billings for a debate presented by the UVM Student Government Association and News Channel 5. The SGA accepted questions from student to be asked at the debate and News Channel 5 also took question from the general public. Governor James Douglas has always referred to Mayor Peter Clavelle as “Pete” in his public statements, a name Clavelle prefers not to go by.

In return, Clavelle now refers to Douglas as “Jim,” but not with the same effect as Governor Douglas commonly goes by Jim. Time allotments restricted the number of questions asked. Seven questions fielded from the audience were answered in the first 25 minutes of the debate. For each question both candidates had 90 seconds to respond. After taking questions from the audience they asked each other questions for roughly 20 minutes with the last 10 being more Q&A from the audience.

Of the nine questions asked to the candidates only two came from University of Vermont students. Clavelle supporters were quick to note that one of the students who asked a question at the debate appears on a campaign television commercial for Governor James Douglas.

A UVM first year student brought up UVM’s low state appropriation, around 9 percent of total operating budget. He continued on saying that under President Fogel’s “vision” of UVM the university will grow tremendously over the next decade. His question to the candidates was how the state appropriation would grow with the university? Governor Douglas was the first to answer the question. He said that as an engaged member of the University of Vermont’s Board of Trustees he understands President Fogel’s vision well, feels that it is necessary for the state’s funding of the university should increase accordingly. He continues to say that over the past two years the states funding to UVM has increased, he added that significant increase can only be done over the course of time, so that the state does not take funds from other important programs.

Mayor Clavelle’s retort was that the state’s increase in fund the University of Vermont was less than the total increase of the Vermont’s total budget, so that as a percentage of the state’s budget appropriation to UVM actually decreased. He went on to say that he supports President Fogel’s vision for the university and that he feels the university needs better support from the state to do so. Clavelle noted the state of Vermont spends more on the Department of Corrections than it does on The Vermont State College System and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. He said that state has to do a better job in supporting its higher education.

The second question presented by a University of Vermont student was in regard to what kind of job market a UVM student will find in Vermont once they graduate. For this Douglas mentioned the tax breaks that he has made for businesses in Vermont that according to him will greatly benefit small businesses and large alike. Many business owners in Vermont have supported Douglas on this issue saying that it has reduced burdensome taxes that limit the availability of fund that companies have to invest within the company.

Clavelle focused on his success that he has had with the Burlington economy, specifically the creative economy. The creative economy focuses on the art community that has successfully become a vibrant part of the economy of Burlington. Clavelle stressed that he feels this would play to the strengths of the Vermonters. On top of the creative economy he stress the steps that he has taken to help develop small businesses within Burlington.