Cassandra Gekas and Phil Scott may be two of the most polite candidates running for statewide office. In fact, during a debate on VPR’s Vermont Edition Wednesday, Scott expressed unease with having to challenge his opponent directly as Gekas smiled and laughed in agreement.
But there are important differences between the two that were highlighted in the debate. Gekas, running as a Progressive/Democrat, fully supports Governor Peter Shumlin’s single payer approach to health care, while the Republican incumbent is more hesitant. Scott says he needs more of the details, like a fully fleshed out funding mechanism, before he can determine his position.
Both candidates support renewable energy, but Scott would like a two-year moratorium on industrial wind permits, while Gekas thinks wind is an important part of our energy portfolio.
Gekas supports legislation on death with dignity, sometimes called physician-assisted suicide. Scott opposes it for personal reasons.
The lieutenant governor has a limited role in state government, presiding over the Senate and filling in for the governor. So, voters also need to feel confident in each candidate’s leadership potential. During the debate, they spelled out their qualifications.
"I’ve served as lieutenant governor over the past two years," said Scott. "I’ve spent 120 days acting governor. I’ve been ten years in the Senate. I’ve been a business owner for over 30. I’ve been a father for over 25 and a Vermonter for over 50. So I think there are a number of ways."
Cassandra Gekas, who is running for office for the first time, pointed to her experience as a lobbyist and advocate. "I’ve spent the past ten years working really with all levels of state government and local programs," she stressed. "So I understand how they work on the ground, how they work behind the scenes, understand the nuts and bolts of lawmaking, and the politics that go along with it all and have done that really well under high-pressure situations, which I think is really important if you need to step in as governor."
Voters will determine whose qualifications they prefer on November 6th.
Jane Lindholm’s questions to the candidates:
Candidate Questions to each other:
- Scott questions Gekas: How will we rebuild the Waterbury complex without money from FEMA and still keep our bond rating?
- Gekas questions Scott: How should we fix health care delivery and insurance in this state?
- Gekas questions Scott: Renewable energy, ridgeline development
- Scott questions Gekas: Party affiliation
- Gekas questions Scott: Taking a stance on controversial issues
- Scott questions Gekas: Role as a lobbyist
Listener questions to the candidates
- How would you fund your education proposals?
- How do you feel about GMO labeling?
- How would you support local agriculture and local forestry services?
- Do you support a death with dignity or physician-assisted suicide bill?