Though the Herrick Auditorium wasn’t filled to capacity, there was still quite a crowd to hear local politicians at the Town Hall Political Forum-Debate on Wednesday Oct. 3. The event was hosted by the Castleton State College History and Politics club and featured three Vermont politicians: Republican Chairman Bob Roper, Progressive Chairman Anthony Pollina and Democratic State Sen. Bill Carris. Audience members asked questions and were able to voice opinions about politics and concerns in Vermont.
For those who were unable to attend the event, a little background on the politicians. Republican representative Bob Roper is the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party and says “it’s tough being a Republican in Vermont.”
He believes that the Republican Party can help Vermonters build up the economy and help them afford the cost of living in the state.
Progressive representative Anthony Pollina goes with many of the same views that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has and works to “speak directly to the needs of Vermonters.” He is always working with people within the communities of Vermont, and is a co-founder of the Vermont Milk Company.
Democrat Bill Carris is a Castleton alumnus and said he “feels there is neutral ground between parties working with the government.” He says conservation is essential for Vermont and will have a direct payback on the state.
Once the politicians were introduced, the audience asked a variety of questions. Topics included the parties’ opinions of dominance of the NEA in Vermont; the influence and relevance of the Iraq war on Vermont; how to improve funding for Vermont colleges and changes they’d like to see happen within the state.
All of the officials agreed that universal healthcare would be the best improvement for the state.
They were asked “how does the amount of experience you’ve had affect what you do now?” Roper said “experience is critical to what you do.”
Pollina elaborated, saying “there are two types of experience: experience in what you’ve done and experience you’ve had depending on your age. Age doesn’t always matter. Young people need to get involved as well, as they can sometimes be the best leaders.”
Carris said that “experience is good but some kids out of college are the best, they’re hard working and caring.”
The officials were also asked “why people were uninspired to come to the debate tonight?”
“People don’t feel as involved in politics as in, say baseball. We used to do what was good for the many, but we’ve become a country of greed and self focus. People have to feel open to politics and that they’ll get something out of it,” Pollina said.
Carris and Roper supported this adding that people don’t feel empowered to be involved with politics and that those who are involved need to try to reach out to people.
The forum wrapped up with the politicians expressing their main views and ideas for Vermont.
“Vermont needs to expand; we are not investing in energy like we should. Vermont Yankee is 30 years old, and it’s time to move on,” Roper said, with Pollina agreeing.
Carris said that, “energy will be the biggest problem, go for conservation, as it will have a direct payback.”
The audience was left with the message to help the state of Vermont see its’ potential and that government is truly in the people of Vermont.