Both the Vermont Republican Party and the Vermont Democratic Party will hold leadership elections Saturday as party delegates meet at their biannual conventions to prepare for the upcoming legislative session.

Both conventions are open to the public. The GOP will meet at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Burlington, while Democrats gather at the Old Labor Hall in Barre.

“We’re trying to make an open, transparent process, and invite members of the public to come in and participate and hear about the issues that are important to them,” says VTGOP Chairman Paul Dame.

Delegates will also be discussing issues they want to see in the legislature’s upcoming session. Dame wants to talk about changes to education, workforce development and housing, which is a subject Glidden wants to see on the agenda.

The GOP plans to hear from a list of out-of-town speakers, including Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Georgia Representative Mesha Mainor and former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown.

Another scheduled speaker is Scott Presler, a proponent of early and absentee voting.

“Scott Presler is somebody who has been saying there are good hard-working people who just can’t get there on election day,” says Dame, adding that Presler is a “hardworking volunteer” who has helped Republican candidates.

VDP Chairman David Glidden has a different view of Presler, calling him an “insurrectionist” who believes the 2020 election was “stolen.” Glidden says inviting Presler shows how “the Vermont Republican Party has descended into conspiracy-mongering.”

“I think inviting Presler to speak, inviting someone who called January 6th — rather than an insurrection, he called it a civil rights march — I think that really indicated how out of touch with Vermonters this party is,” says Glidden.

But Dame says the response to Presler is unwarranted and “disappointing.”

“We know what we’re about,” he said. “Again, the reason Scott [Presler] is coming is to talk about early voting and absentee ballot, and volunteerism, and those are things that we support.”

Over the weekend, state Democrats called on Governor Phil Scott to take control of his party. “He has a duty as the highest elected member of that party to fix it, or get out,” says Glidden.

In response, Dame says the Vermont Democratic Party “has really jumped the shark. They’re calling Phil Scott a radical right-winger.”

Scott’s press secretary, Jason Maulucci, said the governor will not be attending the VTGOP convention.

“Ridiculous and desperate attacks like this from the VDP are fortunately irrelevant, and the Governor, like the vast majority of Vermonters, does not concern himself with hyper partisan attacks from either side of the aisle. It’s one of the many reasons why he has earned historic and broad support from Vermont independent, Democrats and Republicans alike. The Governor puts people and policy over partisan politics.”