Name: David Zuckerman
Running for: Governor
What examples of leadership in the public interest can you cite from your past?
Beginning in college, I was an organizer in college with the Vermont Student Environmental Program where I worked on reusable mugs (this was late 80’s early 90’s) campus recycling, a YEO (Youth Education Outreach) program to visit schools and teach environmental issues, and was a leader on the organizing team for the 20th anniversary of Earthday (1990). Over my entire career, I have worked to continue that leadership on fighting our climate crisis both inside Montpelier through policy and outside as a farmer and steward of the earth. My spouse and I currently co-own Full Moon Farm, an organic farm in Hinesburg Vermont. We work to make organic healthy food more widely available and affordable by providing discounts for low-income Vermonters for farm shares as well as discounting our produce at farmers’ markets. Our farm also donates thousands of pounds of food to the food shelf each year. As a legislator, have I worked on numerous pieces of environmental and consumer protection legislation over the years. From renewable energy standards to energy building codes. From legislation addressing toxins in toys to, more recently, supporting the medical monitoring bill for toxic exposure (that, unfortunately, the current governor vetoed). I have also led on GMO labeling for over a decade as well as many other pieces of legislation around consumer protection and environmental protection. Additionally, I have worked on election law reforms to expand voter participation and inclusion from same-day voter registration to public financing of elections and Instant Runoff Voting (IRV or RCV).
What are your top three priorities and how do they benefit the public?
My campaign is about helping Vermonters through this coronavirus crisis (including a mask mandate, opening schools safely and expanding healthcare access) and re-building our Vermont economy, addressing our failing criminal justice and policing systems, and fighting our climate crisis. We have an opportunity to rebuild a clean, green economy where Vermonters are paid a living wage, have access to good education, where all Vermonters feel safe and secure for their future.
Describe your plans to address the following problems in Vermont:
The Climate Crisis
I have long been a supporter of legislation that addresses climate change and transitions to a green economy. I support the Green New Deal and a Green Mountain New Deal for Vermont takes into account the specific strengths of Vermont’s land and economy. I see an opportunity for jointly addressing our climate crisis and rebuilding our Vermont economy out of this pandemic.
A Green Mountain new deal would invest over $100 million per year over the next few years into:
– Expanding broadband to encourage less commuting and more telecommuting,
– Building denser, energy-efficient affordable housing in village and town centers
– Weatherizing senior and working-class Vermonters’ homes
– Exploring supports for expanding local food production including more processing and storage facilities to improve resilience & reduce our carbon footprint
– Exploring regenerative agriculture to both sequester carbon and build resilient soils. Investing in diversified renewable energy production across the state.
Unemployment & The Economy
When the U.S. was suffering through the Great Depression, government-funded programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps were able to help thousands of Americans. As we face the current recession, we must use the same approach. We cannot fall into austerity budgeting and instead, we must use our federal and state government resources to put Vermonters back to work. Recently, I highlighted the Everyone Eats program which uses CARES money to pay local restaurants to employ Vermonters, buy local produce, and make meals for food-insecure Vermonters. We need more creative programs, like this moving forward. We also have an opportunity to focus our efforts on projects that will ensure that the economy we rebuild will be clean, green, and have good-paying jobs. We must invest in renewable energy around the state, expand broadband to encourage more rural jobs and telecommuting, and invest in weatherization particularly for our fixed income seniors and our low income working Vermonters.
Health Care Costs
The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated an existing problem. Drastic changes were needed prior to this crisis and are needed more than ever now to make sure all Vermonters are guaranteed healthcare as a human right. My priority is a universal healthcare system that decouples employment from healthcare coverage beginning with universal primary care. I will expand the FQHC and build off current systems that are working. For instance, some businesses in Vermont have set up independent free care clinics for their employees and are seeing an ROI less than a year. I will also adjust insurance company reimbursement rates so independent doctors are not forced out of their practices. We also need to make sure our next Governor does not propose cutting support for those primary care docs who are willing to establish their practices in underserved rural Vermont. We will also make sure that Vermonters have access to affordable housing and are not food insecure. Health is more than just medical care.
We must raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, build more affordable housing, and address the real burden of taxes and fees on working Vermonters. While the legislature has made significant strides this past session on the minimum wage, the cost of living continues to increase for Vermonters across the state especially as the coronavirus has led to out-of-staters buying many houses sight-unseen. Raising the minimum wage will especially help address income inequality for women and BIPOC Vermonters, who disproportionately make the minimum wage. Additionally, after we reach $15/hr, we must ensure that the minimum wage keeps pace with the cost of living. We must build more affordable housing and address taxes and fees to help those working full time have the resources to meet their and their family’s needs.
Vermont has struggled for a long time with inequities in internet and broadband access between our urban, suburban and rural areas. The coronavirus crisis has further exposed and amplified those inequities. Right now, there are over 50,000 Vermonters who do not have access to broadband or internet and are struggling to educate their children, get access to resources, or work from home. While the legislature has recently invested some money into this, we have a long way to go. As part of my Green New Deal program, I propose to invest in expanding broadband throughout the state, starting with city and town centers. With an investment of approximately $20,000,000 per year to support our Communications Union Districts (CUDs) we can leverage federal and private dollars to achieve the goal of statewide quality broadband.
A large part of being prepared for living in our adjusting climate means planning for it. I know that with increased intense rains, winds, and extreme weather changes, we have to prepare our communities for that.
I support more funding for low impact village and town center development infrastructure. Carbon emissions are harmful enough, we do not need our transportation system to compound issues like pollution through storm water runoff into our waterways.
I also support funding intersection improvements, encouraging the use of roundabouts to reduce idling, and looking into intelligent transportation systems.
We also need to look for ways to make farming supports for those that are building the soil tilth to make it more absorbent. This will reduce run-off and prevent water pollution and soil erosion.
I am a supporter of the medical monitoring bill that would require the toxic chemical companies to pay for medical monitoring of those who have been exposed to their toxic releases.
Racism is a multi-generational, systemic issue that is going to take a strong commitment and continual focus to undo 400 years of damage. It starts with everyone, especially those of us who are white, exploring our biases and learning our full history. This is why I supported H.3/ Act 1 to ensure education on these biases and history and S.119, and S.219 that addressed law enforcement training. I would expand funding for the office of Racial Equity. I also support defunding our police by re-allocating some of our law enforcement budgets to better meet community safety goals: more social workers, counselors, rehabilitation programs, and addiction support services. I also support drastically changing our police training. We need to ensure those who arrive at crisis situations aren’t primed for use of force, and instead, are focused on the best outcome. I also support H.478, which would establish a task force to study and consider a state apology and proposal for reparations for slavery.
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 have been a vocal opponent of the fossil fuel industry for my entire career or over two decades in public service. I would absolutely refuse to accept any and all contributions from fossil fuel companies, fuel company executives, fossil fuel industry lobbyists or fossil fuel political action committees. None of those entities, however, have ever tried to donate to my campaigns. For obvious reasons.
In the 2020 election, will you accept contributions from corporations?
No. I have never accepted contributions from corporations in any of my races and I never will. I have also sponsored and voted for numerous bills to remove corporate contributions from candidates or parties in Vermont.
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?
Yes. I have been fighting to reduce plastic pollution for over two decades, beginning with organizing a program as a college student at UVM to encourage reusable cups at the dining halls (the CUPPS program.) I have continued my commitment to reduce plastic pollution through my years in the legislature and as Lieutenant Governor.
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)?
Yes. I strongly support legislation that holds our state accountable to achieve our climate commitments. I have been a vocal supporter of this measure as Lt. Governor and in my campaign.
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.
I have been proud to be a longtime ally of VPIRG. I hope you will consider endorsing my candidacy so that we can implement these policies on day one.