St. Albans Messenger Endorses Randy Brock for Lt. Governor

Three basic responsibilities are required of the person who serves as Vermont’s lieutenant governor: presiding over the Senate, casting the tie-breaking vote when the need arises, and acting as governor when the governor is out of state, or incapacitated. In Vermont’s political parlance, the moniker is Gov. Lite.

The office is also, more often than not, used as the training wheels for future ambitions, which means we need to look at today’s candidates for lieutenant governor as someone we would want to act, or to serve, as governor.

In this year’s general election, the choice is between Republican Randy Brock, and Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman.

Mr. Brock, former state auditor and state senator from Franklin County, is the person most capable of exercising this responsibility judiciously, fairly and affordably.

The choice is clear.

Mr. Zuckerman is a progressive, with a two-decade record of embracing the causes of a far left political agenda, something he champions, and, to his credit, doesn’t disavow. There is nary a budget he wouldn’t prefer to be larger, or a tax he wouldn’t raise. He’s an activist. His agenda is to do more, not less. If his ideas were in put place, Vermont would be a far more expensive place to live than it presently is, which is already an outlier nationally.

Mr. Zuckerman, for example, wants to shift how we fund education from the property tax to the income tax, but to adjust the rate so that it’s borne more by those with incomes exceeding $200,000. Not only does that put the education fund at risk – incomes fluctuate more than property values – but there isn’t enough money at the top end to make a substantial difference in what would be required to fund our schools.

Mr. Zuckerman is also leading the effort to legalize pot in Vermont, something he says would generate hundreds of millions of dollars, money that could be used for a wide variety of public causes, like subsidizing higher education costs. Not enough information is available for anyone to speak confidently about the effects of legalizing pot, and nowhere is there any evidence that legalizing pot would be a financial windfall for Vermont. To the contrary, in Colorado the state’s “take” amounts to about one percent of its revenue stream.

Mr. Zuckerman was a strong proponent of a single-payer health care system, but was also absent a suggestion as to how to pay for it.

Mr. Zuckerman also voted to continue to allow parents to exempt their children from mandatory vaccinations, saying the science behind whether vaccinations are safe is disputed. Fortunately, he lost.

You know what you would get with Mr. Zuckerman. No surprises. But Vermont would be a more expensive, less prosperous place with his political priorities in place, than without them.

Mr. Brock is also a known quantity. He made his reputation in Vermont serving both as the state’s auditor and a state senator from Franklin County. He was regarded as scrupulously fair and openminded. Contrary to prior occupants of the office, Mr. Brock never used the auditor’s office as a political lever to further his ambition. Being an auditor was a short step away from what he spent his professional life doing, which was paying attention to the financial details, and how things work. He did that regardless of who was involved, or who was challenged. He was credited with restoring a sense of professionalism to the auditor’s office.

He had that same reputation in the Senate. People relied on his intelligence, his integrity, his ability to articulate clearly, and his political open-mindedness. Of all the members, he was the one who could be relied upon to understand the details, to ask the telling questions others might have missed.

That is precisely the talent we need in a lieutenant governor. Details do matter. The hard questions have to be asked. How many times, of late, has the Legislature passed legislation only to learn that it was misguided, or improperly crafted?

His is not the most enviable of reputations, at times. It’s akin to being called the brake, when what the world loves is the accelerator.

But Vermont doesn’t need an accelerator right now. Not in a political system heavily dominated by the Democratic Party. And not at a time when we’re still mid-course in digesting the requirements of school consolidation, the pending all payer waiver, opiate addiction, and perpetually difficult budgets. We need some balance, and we need someone smart enough, and schooled enough in Vermont’s political world to ask the tough questions, to force a financial accounting of what is being considered and why.

Mr. Brock is also an African-American, the first ever elected to statewide office in Vermont. He is acutely aware of Vermont’s lily-white history and its character, and, in this era of racial tension, he is particularly well suited to be that voice of moderation and tolerance that is so essential.

If experience, moderation, integrity and character are the qualities most suitable for someone to be Vermont’s lieutenant governor, then Mr. Brock is clearly the best choice.

by Emerson Lynn

(Printed in the October 20, 2016 Edition of the St. Albans Messenger)