Vermont Democratic candidates for governor discuss climate crisis, police reform

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Three Democratic candidates for Governor in Vermont took part in a virtual forum on the COVID-19 crisis, racial injustice and climate change Wednesday evening.

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman (D/P), former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D), and Bennington Attorney Patrick Winburn (D) all answered questions, and will go head-to-head in Vermont’s Democratic Primary on August 11.

The forum was hosted by a trio of Vermont activist groups focused on environmental and social change: The Sierra Club, Vermont Conservation Voters and 350Vermont.

The three candidates were asked how they’d balance an uncertain economy with the need to address a growing climate crisis.

“We need to stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure and begin to phase in support for our transition to a more green local renewable energy economy,” Holcombe said. “We need to stop talking about this just as a cost, and we need to focus on it as an investment in future opportunity.”

Holcombe lead the Agency of Education for four years under Governors Peter Shumlin and Phil Scott.

During her tenure, Holcombe led the charge in opposing the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal law implemented standardized testing and accountability for public schools.

Patrick Winburn has been an active trial lawyer in Vermont since 1987. He has also served as Moderator in the Village of Old Bennington since 2016.

“If elected, my environmental platform would be more aggressive than the general assembly, and I would work to pass a Green Mountain New Deal during my first two years in office,” Winburn said.

David Zuckerman has served as Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor since 2017. He previously served in the Vermont House of Representatives for six terms (1997–2011), and the Vermont Senate for two terms (2013–2017). He was the first Progressive Party candidate to win statewide office in Vermont.

“With me, you’ve got someone who’s been with activists and organizers fighting against the climate crisis for decades, and it takes more than just words when running for office,” Zuckerman said.

Candidates also weighed in on efforts to achieve fair, unbiased policing, regulating the use of force, and creating new models of public safety.

Governor Phil Scott (R) has said that he will seek a third term, but won’t be campaigning.

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