Election Day is fast approaching and politicians, like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker who is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, are out fighting the political battle. Although there were numerous empty seats, Parker unveiled his political platform on Oct. 4, at Castleton State College’s Herrick Auditorium.
“This state, under my leadership, will be passionately committed to addressing the very real problems that this world faces,” Parker said.
“I want to do more for Vermont students,” he said, saying he wants, through a stable source of funding, to provide low-income and first-generation students with the money needed to stay in college. That’s unlike Douglas’s ‘Promise Scholarship’ program, he said.
Parker not only criticized Douglas’ lack of funding for the scholarship program, but called him “a disaster” with regard to future energy strategies.
“He works on politics harder than anyone I know,” Parker said about Douglas. “What’s behind it and what’s the substance, and what’s the reality? I think the reality is that Jim Douglas really is a very conservative politician, whose politics is actually really close to the Bush Administration,” he added, listing the issues of tax cuts, the war in Iraq, and the privatization of social security.
“When you look at the record there isn’t much there,” he continued, telling the audience to look at Douglas’s affordability agenda. “It is a plate of warmed over leftovers,” he said explaining that Douglas has repeatedly proposed a property tax cap and an unworkable housing plan.
Parker went on to say Douglas is “all barn and no hay” and “the performance isn’t there.”
With his hands moving as he talked and a round Scudder for governor sticker on his lapel going in and out of view, he stated that, “As a candidate what you have to do is persuade people you are going to be a good leader. When you get to be governor or senator you have to prove it,” Parker said. “And Jim Douglas hasn’t proven it.
Regarding global warming, Parker said he believes it “is the real, and perhaps the largest, single challenge facing the people of this country and this world.”
Parker then proudly mentioned his help in founding Efficiency Vermont, which has helped with Castleton’s sustainability project.
Parker, 63, although not a native Vermonter, grew up in the North East Kingdom and served for over two decades as a congregational minister.
When asked by a young female in the audience about civil unions and marriage, the Protestant minister said, “I don’t want the state telling people what marriage is.” He pointed out that it makes a difference calling it a civil marriage versus a civil union, calling it a civil marriage would allow couples the right to take part in their spouse’s care if hospitalized.
“My only reason for being in politics is the passionate belief that I can help actually make things different and better for the people of the state of Vermont,” Parker said.
If he becomes governor, he said he wants to look back and notice how he helped Vermont with declining energy consumption and a growing economy, all due to wind power, solar panels, intelligent heating systems and thriving small businesses. He hopes Vermont will become a place young people will want to stay and come back to because it will have job opportunities to help them flourish.
He also would like to see the small businesses maintain a means of sustainability, improving the environment and keeping energy costs down, which in turn creates money to be spent on property taxes, education and a healthcare program.
Parker, speaking of advertising and how healthcare programs should focus on prevention, states that this country spends billions of dollars on “un-healthcare” and Vermont needs to build a universal healthcare program for everyone no matter age or employment status.
“It is not about positioning or clever gimmicks or something that looks good; it’s about actually getting on with the hard work,” he said.