Name: Brenda Siegel
Running for: Lieutenant Governor
What examples of leadership in the public interest can you cite from your past?
I am Executive Director/ founder of the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, formed as a long term economic driver for my community after Tropical Storm Irene in which my son and I lost all of our belongings. I serve as Chair of the Newfane Democratic Committee and delegate to Windham County. I got my start as an intern in then congressman Bernie Sanders’ Washington D.C. office in 2001. Active on the Raise the Wage coalition, as well as a member leader of Rights and Democracy, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand what we need to do to make change. Since my 2018 campaign for Governor I have traveled around the state and country speaking to states attorneys, police chiefs, legislators, those in active use, recovery, as well as family members to advocate for progressive drug policy changes. In March of 2018 my nephew died of a Heroin Overdose. He was the son of my brother who died just over 20 years ago also while using Heroin. I released a plan to heal the Overdose Crisis in 2018 which has gained traction across the state and with key players throughout the country. Additionally, I serve on the board at Community Of Vermont Elders on the policy committee and the State of Vermont’s Public Transit Advisory Committee. I serve as a citizen member of the legislative equity caucus. I am an alumni of Emerge Vermont, Run As You Are, and RAD’s LEAD-VT training.
What are your top three priorities and how do they benefit the public?
Bold Climate Action: By solving this issue, if we do it correctly than we also address economic and racial justice.
Building a Bottom Up Economy: COVID-19 exposed gaping holes in our system. Building Better out of crisis will support a more stable foundation.
Healing The Overdose Crisis: Over 100 people have died each year and more suffered. It impacts everyone in this state.
Support and Strengthen Our Education System: Education is our foundation for all people in the state
Describe your plans to address the following problems in Vermont:
The Climate Crisis
We can have a Green Mountain New Deal or a Renew New England Program here in Vermont. All across the state, country and world, we have seen our children standing up as leaders, begging us to implement the policies necessary to leave the earth for them and their children.
We must prioritize:
- Renewable energy with storage
2. Transform our transportation system
3. Introduce comprehensive weatherization initiatives
4. Much More
Change must happen in every town, county, state, and across the country if we wish to combat this crisis. We know that climate change is impacting the most marginalized folks across our state in a disproportionate way. It is important to give young people the platform and microphone with which to build on the movement that they have created. It is their future we are fighting for.
Unemployment & The Economy
For the last nine years I have worked on a project to drive the economy as a response to the destruction after Tropical Storm Irene. Vermonters need to be able to look forward to an economy that has a more stable foundation than the one that we were in when the pandemic first hit our state.
We have to build better coming out of the crisis. We must go into each and every community and work with town and city governments to come up with creative economic solutions for driving the economy. In addition we need to identify specific needs for our unique communities and help to access resources from the state and federal government that will support those needs.
It is essential that we build into our recovery effort ways to meet our housing crisis, food insecurity and income inequality.
When we are structuring our next step, it must include a green economy which will support and enhance opportunity for families making Vermont both more attractive and possible for all.
Health Care Costs
For far too long the cost of health care has been determined by a select few. We need to move on a path to universal health care in this state so that no longer the wealthy few get to decide who lives and who dies. This is an area where, as evidenced by the mass public comment when there is a rate hike, that Vermonters prefer us to move toward Medicare For All. On this issue, I will utilize an inside outside approach with organizations on the ground to ensure that we are moving in a direction that ends this practice and guarantees health care to all.
We must fight to shrink the income disparities in our state and provide the necessary resources to give every person a life of dignity. As Lieutenant Governor I will empower those who need these changes with the tools to advocate in the ways they are able to force change. Too many people in Vermont struggle to make ends meet and lack the resources they need. Developing a creative economic structure will be essential to moving from a crisis to a strong and stable economy. We also must ensure that the most wealthy among us pay their share. The investments that we need to make are intersectional. We must take a comprehensive look at the systems that undermine the ability of working people across Vermont to not only survive but also thrive. Everything in our platform seeks to address the barriers to ending income inequality across this state.
We have begun to see the rise of communications districts throughout the state. We must use a combination of techniques to ensure broadband is distributed universally throughout Vermont and that our children can do their homework and learn at home, and our teachers no longer need to sit outside their schools in their cars to teach when teaching remotely. This means a combination of Communications districts, expanded fiber and hubs for learning in case the internet in particularly difficult areas fails. We must do this in order to move into an equitable year for schools. This was a problem before the pandemic with many areas in our state seeing 25% of residents having little or no access to the internet. There is no time to wait on this priority as for both climate and COVID-19, this access becomes more necessary every day.
We must pass TCI, however, as someone who serves on the State of Vermont’s Public Transit Advisory Council, I understand that we truly need to have a statewide interconnected public transportation system that runs on electric busses, micro transit, and trains. We must utilize micro transit in rural communities as well as have fair free bussing. Through this COVID-19 crisis, we have also learned that it is possible to work and do other activities remotely and this should be used as a model to transition away from fossil fuels. We must modernize our energy efficiency utilities, including Efficiency Vermont, and divest from fossil fuels. Additionally, we need to stop relying on energy from Canada and reinvest in renewable energy here in the state of Vermont. It is necessary to have green energy with storage to help us reach these goals as well. In addition, support for small farms to get off of toxic chemicals and penalties to large farms who do not transition.
Structural racism and inequity occurs across every system throughout Vermont and the country. We must dismantle these systems. Defunding police and dismantling the prison industrial complex is just the beginning. Both of these systems have served as an extension of slavery and Jim Crow. We must reinvest resources into communities who have been harmed by the injustice of racist systems and as white people re-examine our own bias, as well as systems that protect our privilege. We must intentionally center marginalized groups in policy and decision making. We must be willing to move and pass legislation that pays reparations, ends harmful policies and provides meaningful structural change. In addition, if we hope to rid our society of the scourge of racist inequities, we have to be willing to seek with intention leaders from Black and Brown, Indigenous, Latinex, Immigrant and Migrant communities. We cannot just be welcoming we have to begin to intentionally undo the harm that has been caused by a system that was built to oppress. We also must as white people examine where we have used the advantage of our privilege to maintain this racist system. We need to talk to our inner circles and do the work to make change.
In the 2020 election, will you accept contributions from fossil fuel companies, fossil fuel company executives, fossil fuel industry lobbyists or fossil fuel political action committees?
No – I believe that we need to divest from fossil fuels all together.
In the 2020 election, will you accept contributions from corporations?
Do you support expansion of Vermont’s efforts to address plastic pollution by eliminating additional single-use items and requiring producers to take more responsibility over the products and packaging they create?
Do you support enactment of legislation that holds the state accountable to achieving its climate commitments, and requires strategic planning for Vermont’s recovery that focuses on how to transition to a more equitable, clean, local, and resilient economy (The Global Warming Solutions Act)?
Sliding Scale Questions
Companies that pollute Vermont’s environment should be required to pay for clean up costs and medical monitoring of those exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Corporations should not be allowed to contribute to political candidates in Vermont.
Currently Vermont imports all of its fossil fuels and most of its renewable electricity from out of state. To create jobs and address the climate crisis, Vermont should develop significantly more in-state renewable energy, including wind and solar.
Vermont should significantly increase funding for efficiency and electrification to help Vermonters and Vermont businesses reduce their energy use and climate impact from heating and transportation.
New fossil fuel infrastructure, such as pipelines, should be banned in Vermont.
Manufacturers should provide consumers and independent repair shops with fair access to service information and affordable replacement parts so that individuals can fix their own products and equipment (Right to Repair).
Please share any additional information or comments you would like VPIRG members to know.
This campaign is about building a path forward for marginalized voices to have a seat at the table with equal voice and equal power. What I know is that in order to move forward many of the issues that you hear candidates talking about today, we need to have a movement on the ground. So often, things don’t move because they lack that groundswell. As lieutenant governor, I will work in partnership with all of you to build that movement. We have incredible power in a Vermont that we build together.