Monday October 1, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Peter Shumlin isn’t the only gubernatorial candidate from Windham County.

Putney resident Emily Peyton also is on the general election ballot, making her second run for Vermont governor as an independent.

And she shrugs off any skepticism about an unconventional platform that includes support for industrial hemp production, an oil-free Vermont, a state bank and "Cuban-model" socialized health care.

"We don’t have room for the cynicism right now," Peyton said. "We have got to roll up our sleeves and get to work."

Peyton hails from the same town as Shumlin, a Democrat seeking his second term as governor. Republican Randy Brock, a state senator from Franklin County, is challenging.

Also on the ticket are Dave Eagle of the Liberty Union Party and Cris Ericson of the United States Marijuana Party.

Peyton ran in 2010 but, just before the election, she asked any supporters to vote for Shumlin instead. She recalls those days as "dark times" due to her inexperience in dealing with debates and public scrutiny.

"It was very challenging to be so mocked at every turn," Peyton said.

But Peyton says she has a different outlook now.

In 2010, "I ran to find out the challenges -- what it is to run as an independent," she said. "This time, I’m running to challenge the system."

She is disappointed that Shumlin has not moved toward instituting a state-run bank, one of Peyton’s policy priorities. She believes such an institution -- modeled after a public bank in North Dakota -- would help grow the state’s economy and put more money in circulation.

As governor, Peyton said, she would invite North Dakota officials to Vermont to explain the concept.

"The bank could be set up within six months," Peyton said, adding that "there just isn’t enough knowledge and education about what money is and how it works."

Peyton also is lobbying for renewable energy. But she takes the concept further than other candidates, saying she would "do everything humanly possible to get off oil in five years and go completely organic."

She wants smaller-scale, "decentralized" energy sources. On her website, www.emilypeyton.org, she writes that "hemp, flax, sorgum and soy will be the backbone of our heating and driving fuel" and that "solar and small hydro will be our electric source."

Hemp plays a big role in Peyton’s candidacy. She says federal authorities should allow Vermont to produce large quantities of the plant.

"There is absolutely no legal basis for the U.S. to prohibit its states from growing it," Peyton said.

She believes there are myriad uses for "industrial hemp," including automobile manufacturing and building construction.

Other elements of Peyton’s platform include:

* Health-care reform: While Brock has criticized Shumlin for steering the state toward a centralized, single-payer health-care model, Peyton advocates for a different path she labels the "Cuban model."

This would involve paying for doctors’ and nurses’ education "and then asking from them a period of service for that," Peyton said, adding that she wants to separate money and health care.

"I don’t see that any for-profit motive should be within a public health care system," Peyton said.

* Peyton supports replacing current taxation with a "fair tax," which is a national sales tax. She also says she will "advocate for a Tax Forwarder Office which will send Vermonters’ federal taxes through this office, allowing Vermonters to decide which functions of the federal government we will collectively support."

* Peyton wants to move toward what she calls "food independence" by boosting the state’s agricultural output. She is concerned about the effects of climate change on the nation’s food-production system.

"I don’t think the other candidates are being forward-thinking about the type of things we’re going to be coping with," she said.

* She pledges to accept no monetary donations as she travels around the state, saying the political system has been corrupted by campaign cash. Peyton said this stance has generated support for her candidacy.

"They really like that I’m independent," she said. "And I have much more support this time."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.