An open letter to David Zuckerman ... also to his staff, friends and family:
I very much hope that you will be our governor soon. I've been keeping an eye on your political career for quite a while. I am uncomfortable with some aspects of the way the current campaign is going. I'm writing to share my thoughts and feelings about this with you.
Governor Scott is in a strong position as a candidate. He comes across as a decent guy, has a lot of experience and is well known. He is a Republican in a Democratic state but has managed to hold on to an image of being a "moderate" Republican. As I see him, he is a "real" Republican and he is skillful about how he manifests his commitment to his party in order to make it less obvious. When he became concerned that the state needed more money due to COVID-19, he asked every school district to vote a second time on their budget. This was disrespectful to the people who worked many hours on those budgets. Also, it was a sneaky way to get more money for projects that he favors above children, teachers and school systems. By the time the vote came, many Vermonters were under financial pressure because of the pandemic so school budgets in many districts got smaller.
Overall, Scott tends to follow the Republican party line, quietly, prioritizing the economy and big business over safety nets for needy people and the environment. A couple of recent examples of this are his vetoes of the Global Warming Solutions Act, H.688 and the Minimum Wage Act, S.23. I think your campaign would be a lot stronger if you politely pointed this out. Phil Scott is a Republican and he acts like one. I don't like a lot of negative campaigning, name calling, etc., but we should respectfully call him and his policies what they are: Republican.
Phil Scott has done a very good job dealing with the COVID issue. He has had a great deal of free publicity time talking about it on Vermont Public Radio. He comes across as a wise, caring, informed leader. Scott is in a good position in comparison to you on the pandemic issue. Some of my liberal, left-leaning friends are supporting him based on this issue. During the primary, concerns you have spoken about in the past about possible dangers from vaccinations were brought up and are still hanging around and are a liability to your campaign and continuing to be used against you. People are worried about the pandemic and want access to scientifically tested vaccinations ASAP. Some may be thinking that you are ambivalent about vaccines and won't be sufficiently active in making this happen for Vermonters. I hope you find a way to get your strategy for dealing with the virus and your thoughts about vaccinations across clearly to every potential voter.
About political TV ads: Yikes! They are so expensive for just a few minutes! It is challenging to create a meaningful message about important complex issues in just a few words. Short TV ads, like "sound bites," tend to bring the level of political dialogue to a lower level and don't help voters get to know the candidate. I wish someone would come up with a more cozy way for candidates to communicate with the people — something like FDR and his fireside chats.I saw one of your TV ads, the one of you doing your farm chores. It has nice images and pretty music. Maybe it is a little too subtle and the viewer would wonder what feeding animals has to do with being governor. The video needs a voice-over saying something like this: "This is a video of David Zuckerman taking care of the animals on his farm. He is a person whose adult life has been full of taking care of many things in addition to the animals, plants and soil on his farm ... David has served the people of Vermont as a member of the House of Representatives (1996-2010), senator (2012) and as lieutenant governor (2016-2020). If you go to his website, email@example.com, you will find a concise summary of the many ways he has cared for the well being of all Vermonters, our environment, and good government. For now, the best place to understand who he is and what he is about, is to go to his web site and read his policy statements."
Judy Zemel writes from Brattleboro. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.