Q&A: Republican and Democratic Candidates for Lieutenant Governor | Primary Voter Guide | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Q&A: Republican and Democratic Candidates for Lieutenant Governor

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Published June 29, 2022 at 9:59 a.m.
Updated July 1, 2022 at 5:42 p.m.


Joe Benning, Gregory M. Thayer, Charlie Kimbell, Patricia Preston, Kitty Toll,  David Zuckerman - COURTESY PHOTOS
  • Courtesy Photos
  • Joe Benning, Gregory M. Thayer, Charlie Kimbell, Patricia Preston, Kitty Toll, David Zuckerman

The lieutenant governor presides over the Vermont Senate. The position is largely ceremonial — unless the governor is incapacitated or unable to serve. In that case, the LG takes over the top job. The current LG, Democrat Molly Gray, is running to represent Vermont in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two Republicans and four Democrats hope to win the chance to represent their parties in the November general election.

Republicans

Joe Benning

Lyndon

Trial attorney, state senator

Why are you running?

I want to bring balance and institutional knowledge to the office. The Senate is currently dominated by Democrats and I'm a Republican. I also bring 12 years of institutional knowledge, having served as state senator since 2011.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I know how to moderate a meeting. (Town moderator, Human Rights Commission chair, LSC Foundation and Lyndonville Rotary president, Senate Institutions chair.)

I know all returning senators personally and how they fit in various committee and chair assignments.

I have worked regularly with the governor's administrative team. Transition would be virtually seamless.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

My first issue is to make sure the position is not used as a stepping-stone, as the Senate needs institutional knowledge during its recovery from COVID-19. But this position also enables me to promote Vermonters, Vermont products, and Vermont's proud history in a way no other position does.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

Vermont state senator Graham Newell, my mentor in college. With a deep love of Vermont history, always the consummate gentleman, he treated all with civility and respect. We both hail from the Republican Party's fiscally conservative/socially moderate wing. I have endeavored to be like him every day.

Gregory M. Thayer

Rutland City

Accountant, former Rutland City alderman, and member of various governmental boards and nonprofit boards

Why are you running?

Because I am not happy with the way the Democrat leadership is moving our state to a socialist agenda. They are adopting laws to make government big and in total control. They spend too much of the people's money and are trying to be all things to all people!

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

My 35 years of professional and civic experience coupled with my higher education.

My city council and government experience.

My recent CRT/Equity Townhalls tour and hosting the Americanism v. Marxism Symposiums around Vermont, listening to thousands of Vermonters regarding the subjects.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

As former lt. governor Brian Dubie did, be Vermont's positive marketer, selling the Vermont products and services, and our creative, innovative, hardworking people! Together with advocating my constitutional agenda. I'm an excellent listener that will get all Vermonters involved. It's about "We The People," a common-sense approach to governing.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

My dad, Paul B. Thayer. He lost his dad when he was 6 years old. He worked hard, went into the military. He was a small business owner while raising six children with my mom. He taught us about respect, how to treat people equally, and a hard work ethic.

Democrats

Charlie Kimbell

Woodstock

Sales and marketing executive for software company MISys; state representative

Why are you running?

To make it so everyone can find a meaningful career in work that sustains and fulfills them. To make Vermont affordable, so working families don't struggle to pay for housing and childcare. To build on the quality of life in Vermont: a clean environment, vibrant rural towns, welcoming communities.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

As co-leader of the tri-partisan rural House caucus, passed legislation around rural economic development: diversified ag, forestry products, village/downtown revitalization, outdoor recreation, broadband.

During COVID, worked with colleagues, the administration and nonprofits to create emergency recovery grants, hazard pay grant programs and the Everyone Eats program.

Ran successful retail store as part of 35 years of business experience.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

Drive discussions on issues important to Vermont but often fall through the cracks between departments and legislative committees. Bring stakeholders together. Listen. Seek advice and counsel. Engage the administration and legislature on practical solutions. That is how I will make it happen.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

I am inspired by the Vermonters who are devoted to their community, who give much and ask nothing in return, who show up without being asked, who care genuinely and deeply. They have many names. They inspire me to try harder, to live with intent, to be kind and generous.

Patricia Preston

Burlington

President and CEO at the Vermont Council on World Affairs

Why are you running?

I am uniquely qualified for the office of lieutenant governor, which is an extension of my work as a leader of a statewide organization. As lieutenant governor I will continue to elevate the voices of Vermonters to overcome the issues we face and build a future that belongs to everyone.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

As a leader of a statewide organization, I have increased our revenue by 130 percent, brought millions of dollars of economic impact to our state and strengthened the cultural fabric of Vermont. I will continue this work as lieutenant governor for all of Vermonters.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

On day one, I will hit the ground running to bring Vermonters together from every corner of our state to engage on the issues we face. I will work to strengthen our rural communities, address our affordability crisis and ensure all Vermonters, especially our most vulnerable, are supported.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

I was inspired by my grandfather and his advocacy for the agricultural community. At 5 years old, I attended town hall meetings with him and saw the passion and dialogue that was shared among neighbors. These memories serve as an inspiration and sparked my passion for democracy in action.

Kitty Toll

Danville

Former state representative, chair of the House Appropriations Committee

Why are you running?

I'm running to be a strong voice for Vermonters. With unprecedented federal dollars available, we have one shot to make critical investments in housing, broadband, childcare and more. My background in managing state budgets will help ensure that no Vermonter is left behind as we allocate these federal funds

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

As the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I've built broad coalitions, balanced and managed budgets, and helped pass legislation with tri-partisan support to fill our state's greatest needs. My background as a public and civil servant has allowed me to understand the challenges Vermont faces and the strengths of Vermonters that can be brought together to find solutions.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

Having managed and balanced our state's budget, and worked with members on both sides of the aisle, I can bring real purpose to the office. I'll use my relationships from my time in the legislature and convene meetings with legislators and stakeholders to create policy to address our state's needs.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

Madeleine Kunin is a longtime inspiration of mine. Not only did we both serve as chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee during our time in the legislature, but we also share the same commitment to serving Vermont families and building a brighter future for the next generation.

David Zuckerman

Hinesburg

Organic, regenerative farmer and business owner; former lieutenant governor, state representative and state senator

Why are you running?

I am running because we need bold, reliable, proven leadership in Montpelier. We are facing many crises that are massively impacting Vermonters: the climate crisis, housing, fuel costs, opioids and more. I have the vision and experience we need to move us towards positive solutions that will benefit all Vermonters.

Three accomplishments that qualify you:

I have started and maintained a business for over 20 years.

I was a leader on major issues in Montpelier: marriage equality, raising the minimum wage, rural economic development, Lyme disease healthcare, cannabis reform, affordable housing and more.

As lt. governor and 18-year legislator, I have brought thousands of Vermonters into the public policy discussion through statewide outreach.

How will you use this largely ceremonial office to advance issues that are important to you?

Through committee assignments and working with everyday Vermonters, advocacy groups and community leaders, I will use the office to advance the issues Vermonters tell me are most important. I will broaden the conversation to include marginalized and disenfranchised individuals and help their voices get elevated into the decision-making process.

Name a Vermonter who inspires you.

In 1992, I was inspired to get involved in Vermont politics after listening to then-U.S. representative Bernie Sanders. His steadfast leadership and unwavering moral compass addressing income inequality, social justice, environmental issues and more continue to inspire me to work towards a welcoming Vermont that is fruitful for everyone.