Reed: Racial justice and gubernatorial primary candidates


On July 8 the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity requested gubernatorial primary candidates respond to our eight questions on racial disparities in Vermont. Of the eight candidates six responded in time for us to post by our publication deadline.

We have organized the responses in two formats. The first contains each candidate's response to all the questions; the second format groups all candidate responses by question. The first format gives an overall sense or feel for the candidate; the second provides for an easy side-by-side comparison for each question.

Unfortunately, responses from Bill Lisman and Cris Ericsson made side-by-side comparisons for the individual questions impossible. Likewise, after repeated e-mail requests, Brooke Paige and Bill Lee chose not to respond.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by the year 2042 the United States will become a "majority minority" nation. In May 2012, the Census Bureau announced that births of children of color outnumbered white children for the first time since European settlers outnumbered Native Americans in the 1800s.

In Vermont, the White non-Hispanic population decreased by 10,986 residents or about 2 percent of the general population since the 2010 census. Persons over 65 years old accounted for 17.6 percent of Vermont's general population in the 2015 census estimates, a 3 percent increase over the Census 2010. Vermont public school enrollment has steadily decreased over a 20-year period from 105,565 students in 1996 to 84,446 students today, a 21 percent drop in enrollment.

We believe a sustainable future for Vermont is first and foremost predicated on the state being viewed as a desirable destination for an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual America. Individuals in this emerging American majority want to reside, work, recreate, and invest in destinations known for inclusive and equitable treatment of residents and visitors alike. Moreover, our emerging American majority wants and deserves to feel safe from state sponsored violence by law enforcement of the kind most recently witnessed in Minnesota and Louisiana.

1. How do you intend to work to prevent state sponsored violence against your black and brown skinned constituents in Vermont by law enforcement?

2. What strategies are you considering to be sure that Vermont does not become part of the overwhelming statistics of violence against black and brown bodies in our nation?

3. What criminal justice reforms designed to eliminate racial disparities in Vermont will you vigorously and publicly support? Cite specific reforms for the judiciary, attorney general, state's attorneys, public defenders, corrections, and law enforcement.

4. Where in your budget would you prioritize spending to address racial disparities within state government? Be specific

5. How would you augment efforts to promote Vermont specifically to recreationists, conventioneers, tourists, college students, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists of color.

6. By what means will you ensure that your transition team and candidate pool for cabinet and senior level appointments fully represents Vermont's racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity?

7. To what extent, if any, will the Rooney Rule be the modus operandi of your administration?

8. How, if at all, would you use your bully pulpit to advance a more inclusive and equitable Vermont?

To see the responses from the candidates, visit

Curtiss Reed Jr. is the executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity. He can be contacted at


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