With the Aug. 9 primaries fast approaching, Vermont News & Media sent a questionnaire out to candidates with three questions: 1) What qualifications make you the best candidate for this office? 2) What are the three most important issues or challenges going forward and how would you address them? and 3) What Vermont traditions do we need to preserve in the Green Mountain State? Their responses will be published over the next two weeks.
Kitty Toll, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor
Qualifications: I was born and raised on my family’s dairy farm in Danville with my 13 siblings. Having attended and graduated from all-Vermont schools, I have a deep appreciation for our state’s education system, our state colleges, and the opportunities they provide for rural Vermonters. For 14 years, I taught public school in the Northeast Kingdom.
For 12 years, I served in the Legislature, and in my final four years in the Legislature, I managed the state budget as chair of the House Appropriations and ensured critical funding for programs supporting Vermont’s businesses, schools, and families.
As chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I brought all voices to the table, regardless of party, to balance the state budget. Every one of my budgets passed out of committee with unanimous support, because I built consensus and worked with everyone to get the job done. I will bring this same approach to the lieutenant governor’s office.
Issues and challenges: The three most important challenges facing our state are shortages in housing, broadband, and affordable childcare.
Vermont’s housing crisis is one of our greatest challenges, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. From rental units to single-family homes, this crisis affects everyone.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity, thanks to federal funds secured by our state’s congressional delegation, to build affordable housing and make homeownership possible for young Vermonters. We must also weatherize and adapt home infrastructure to the climate crisis. As lieutenant governor, I’ll make certain these federal dollars are used wisely.
We must also invest in broadband buildouts. Communications Union Districts across the state have more than 200 member towns covering the vast majority of the unserved areas of the state and are made up of more than 400 volunteer board members. Good things have always happened when Vermont communities have come together using the passion and creativity of local volunteers, and we must harness that passion to ensure that every Vermonter has access to high-speed internet.
The lack of affordable child care has increased the pressure on Vermont families, keeping thousands of Vermonters, particularly women, out of the workforce.
Funding for child care will take the work and expertise of all stakeholders to find a sustainable path forward. Legislators on both sides of the aisle and Vermont’s private sector must come together. I will work with everyone to get the job done. We must get this right.
Vermont traditions: We have to preserve and strengthen our democratic process.
We have been fortunate to have a secretary of state and legislators who have championed access to the ballot. But our work is not done.
In Vermont, we must continue to set an example of how democracy works at its best. I’m running for lieutenant governor to bring purpose and experience to the office, but also to maintain respectful dialogue and collaboration across party lines. You can count on me to do everything I can to ensure access to the ballot box for all Vermonters, uphold the sacred right to vote, and strengthen and protect our democratic institutions.