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Democratic Candidates For Lieutenant Governor On Why They Want The Job

There are three individuals vying for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in Vermont ahead of the August primary. The winner will face Republican Randy Brock in the November general election.

In a series of interviews with Vermont Edition, the three Democratic candidates were asked why they want this particular job – especially considering there isn't the same ability to craft legislation like in the House or Senate, nor is there the authority that comes with being governor.

Below are excerpts touching on this topic by the respective Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor. Each section also provides a link to the full interview to hear more discussion from the candidates on a range of issues.

Kesha Ram

When asked on Vermont Edition about why she wants to be lieutenant governor, state Rep. Kesha Ram highlighted her career – both within and outside of the Legislature – working on behalf of Vermont families.

"As I really see it now, after eight years in the Legislature, what we're continuing to see is that Vermont families are continuing to take a Vermont discount on their wages, while they're paying a Vermont premium on their cost of living, and it's unsustainable," Ram said.

In terms of how she sees the role of lieutenant governor in particular being able to address issues in the state, she said it would be a chance to provide connection.

"I see the role of lieutenant governor as having the most opportunity to be connector-in-chief for Vermonters," Ram said. "To bringing stakeholders together year-round, to doing that case work."

Shap Smith

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"I think that the office can be used to bring people from outside of the building together with the people inside the building to address really difficult issues that Vermont still faces," House Speaker Shap Smith told Vermont Edition. "Issues like childhood poverty and early childhood education, downtown redevelopment and economic development in general. And issues like health care, which you know, we've really made some efforts there, but we have a long way to go."

Smith was originally in the race for governor before dropping out after his wife's cancer diagnosis. He joined the race for lieutenant governor in May, and says that his currently sought position isn't just a consolation prize for the state's top post.

"I spent some time talking with a number of people in the building and people who had been lieutenant governor to get a sense of how the job could really be used," Smith said. "And at that point in time, I realized 'Hey, this is something I’d really like to do.' It really fits where I think I am and my family is at this moment."

David Zuckerman

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State Sen. David Zuckerman talked about his early days in politics when asked on Vermont Edition about why he would want to transition from his position in the Senate to the lieutenant governor role.

"I realized that so much of what we can do in the political arena is done with people throughout the state becoming more engaged in the process," Zuckerman said. He went on to explain that the role of lieutenant governor would allow him to encourage that engagement on a broader scale.

"You've got time in the morning as lieutenant governor and time in the afternoon on either side of the floor session when you're technically moderating the Senate, where you can invite people into the Statehouse, engage them in the process, work with them to push their legislators to move forward on big policy," Zuckerman said. "And so I think there's real opportunity on health care reform, raising the minimum wage, affordable housing, rural economic development, climate change – where being a leader and bringing people into the process is a real fit for me."

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