State candidates speak to SGAat public forum

Candidates for Vermont State Senate and Lieutenant Governor attended a public forum to speak about their views last Tuesday at the Davis Center during the weekly meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA).On Sept. 23, State Senate candidates Tim Ashe, who is on the ballot as both a Progressive and a Democrat, and incumbent Democrat Hinda Miller were joined by the Democratic challenger for Lt. Governor, Tom Costello. After giving brief opening statements, the three took questions from SGA Senators for about a half hour. The questions ranged from issues affecting students to ones affecting the future of Vermont. When asked about what each candidate would do to help college students pay for higher education, the candidates seemed to struggle to find specific aspects they could improve.Miller, who responded first, said, “I can’t tell you exactly, but we are getting people together,” and noted that she was the co-chair of the Commission on Higher Education Funding.”There is no easy answer,” Costello said, and offered vague descriptions about any plan he would promote as Lt. Governor. “We need to find a specific solution that will work at this specific time,” Miller said. Ashe pointed to rising health care costs as the driving factor in the increasing costs of higher education and also proposed an evaluation into the operation of Vermont State Colleges to see if their operations could be streamlined to reduce costs.Later in the forum, the candidates were asked what they viewed to be the biggest problem currently facing Vermont. “I think there are a lot of people in the government with low aspirations for the state of Vermont,” Ashe said, suggesting that he would set high goals for the state if he was elected.Miller mentioned that gridlock and the lack of cooperation in the Senate was frustrating and said that she does “not see it in terms of black and white.” “We have no cheap, reliable, renewable energy,” Costello said. “The best solution to that problem was to change the administration.”Notably absent from the forum was incumbent Republican Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, as well as the Republican contenders for the State Senate. “All legal candidates running for these offices were invited to attend this forum,” SGA President Jay Taylor said in a statement about the public forum.