On Monday, October 18, The Valley Reporter hosted a legislative candidate's debate between incumbent Independent state Representative Adam Greshin from Warren and his challenger, Democratic candidate Mac Rood, also from Warren.
A large number of Valley residents turned out at the event at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield to ask questions of the two candidates in addition to the questions submitted by Valley Reporter readers. Valley Reporter editor Lisa Loomis moderated the debate.
In his opening statement, Greshin told attendees that he was running
again because he's "passionate about public policy and service to the
community" and said that his background as a professional in the private
sector "brings balance."
Rood said over his 37 years living in Warren, he has served nine years on the school board and six years on the Warren Select Board and has spent a lot of time serving the town.
When asked for their stance on the siting of alternative energy installations and the regulatory process by the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB), Rood said that the PSB "needs to take local consideration with town plans taken into account."
Greshin said, "It is crucial for towns to have a say in projects," and was in favor of the terms being changed from "due process consideration to conformance with the Town Plan."
MODIFY ACT 60/68
When asked how each candidate would propose to modify Act 60/68 to put a cap on "gold towns" to limit what they could contribute, Rood said that where Vermont was once a "self-supporting, self-confined state governed by towns, now we're part of a larger community - Vermont."
In response to further audience questions about the structure of the Vermont education funding structure, Rood said it's important to "look at ways to control educational spending. We do need to get costs under control, but I don't think we want to lose local control."
Greshin said, "The property tax is steady and rising, and generally a good reflection of wealth; income fluctuates much more than property value."
Rood said the state "should look at using the income tax with education. Every system is imperfect; income tax is more reliable."
LOVES TO HATE PROPERTY TAX
Greshin said, "Everyone loves to hate the property tax."
On whether either candidate was in support of a proposed large-scale wind farm on the Northfield Ridge, Greshin said he didn't think the project "was a particularly good idea" and wasn't sure it would be economically viable.
Rood said, "We need to produce enough energy locally as we can," and though there is a big supply of wind on the ridge, he wasn't sure if the particular project was "a great one."
When asked about the possibility of a referendum at public meeting regarding the PSB's regulatory process, Rood said, "We need to be really careful about how we regulate utilities."
Greshin said, "We have a process already. Act 248 allows a voice; other states regulate differently. Large power projects deserve more input than three people."
Concerning questions about economic development, lost businesses and whether Vermont is "business friendly," Rood noted The Valley's need for infrastructure and broadband internet access.
Greshin said, "Governments create the climate that then encourages businesses to come."
Rood added, "The federal government is creating jobs and is preventing us from descending into a depression. We've done a terrible job at promoting Vermont. I don't think it's wise to promote that Vermont is a bad place to do business."
When asked about last April's health care legislation, Greshin said it "had a lot of good things to it and a few things we could have done without."
Rood said that the study commissioned was "the best part in examining the single payer option. Adam voted against that bill."
Greshin said, "The system, dealing from employment, has to be preventative. What's it going to cost? We have to have a cost control mechanism."
When asked of whether each candidate supported the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, Rood said, "I have thought for a long time that Vermont Yankee should not be relicensed. It's important to be vigilant and set up a decommissioning fund."
Greshin said it is important to look at "how we will be replacing the energy, not how we'll decommission."
UNDER THE GUN
Rood then asked Greshin why he voted against a decommissioning bill. Greshin said that his vote against the bill in question would have resulted in a costly court battle and said it "had nothing to do with my love for the plant."
Greshin asked Rood how we would fund education with income taxes. Rood said, "I'm not suggesting that we eliminate property tax. It's a complicated system. It's so complicated it puts school boards under the gun on how and why money is spent."
Rood asked Greshin why he thought being a registered Independent was advantageous for the residents of The Valley.
Greshin said, "The caucus system is irrelevant. Anyone can go to any caucus. My being an Independent didn't seem to hurt The Valley in any way."
Both candidates agreed on the need to show leadership on the topic of green jobs. Rood said, "We live in the most important community in the whole state. We need to make sure incentives are predictable and reliable."
Greshin said he was "willing to advocate for and work harder to boost green jobs and create a business climate to create jobs."
One attendee commended Greshin for his vote in favor of the marriage equality legislation and said that it is important to "keep our eye on the ball with human rights issues."
Greshin said that though he is fiscally conservative, he is socially more liberal and a supporter of equal human rights.
Rood added, "Vermont can be proud to be on the edge of civil rights; we were the first state to outlaw slavery and to allow marriage equality."
Warren resident Tim Seniff asked the candidates for their top three priorities if elected. Rood said, "Reforming the tax system, working with Governor Shumlin on instituting a single-payer health care system and transitioning away from fossil fuels."
Greshin said, "Vermont continues to pull itself back. We need to consider economic prospects, help Valley residents to finance the education system, and be good stewards of the environmental and quality of life in Vermont."
BEST IDEA/BEST PERSON
When asked why he was a registered Independent party member, Greshin said, "I vote for the best idea and the best person. I'm an Independent representing the best interests of the people that live here."
Rood said, "I've always been a Democrat. The Democratic Party is concerned with civil rights, the needs of the less fortunate, taking care of climate change; Act 60 is the only thing I disagree with my party on."
In his closing statement, Greshin said, "I'm someone who can advocate for you. Being an Independent helped me. I'm in the Mad River Valley party."
Rood disagreed with Greshin and said that while he thought "Independent voters are great - they vote for the best idea or person - but when you get to the Legislature you want to work in concert with one part or another. I pledge if I'm elected to bring my expertise in housing, renewable energy and municipal affairs."