Q&A: Candidates for U.S. Senator | Election Voter Guide | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Q&A: Candidates for U.S. Senator

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Published September 27, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 4, 2022 at 9:38 a.m.


Top row: Stephen Duke; Dawn Marie Ellis; Cris Ericson. Bottom Row: Gerald Malloy; Kerry Raheb; Peter Welch
  • courtesy ©️ Seven Days
  • Top row: Stephen Duke; Dawn Marie Ellis; Cris Ericson. Bottom Row: Gerald Malloy; Kerry Raheb; Peter Welch

When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced his impending retirement last year, it started a scramble for Vermont's first open U.S. Senate seat in 16 years. The following candidates are seeking to serve a six-year term in the Senate, the deliberative body that decides the fate of all sorts of legislation, approves treaties with other nations and confirms presidential nominees, including cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices.

The 100-member Senate is currently evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, whose number includes independents Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). In the case of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the Senate, provides the tie-breaking vote.

With that in mind, here are the candidates on the ballot this fall. All of the answers to these questions were provided by the candidates. Independents Mark Coester, Natasha Diamondstone-Kohout will also appear on the ballot but did not respond to our candidate questionnaire.

Information and photos were provided by the candidates.

Stephen Duke

Age: 67
Town of residence:
East Calais
Occupation: Retired postal worker
Party affiliation: Independent
Website: None

What will be your top priority in office?

Work to overturn Biden's order to shut down 40 percent of U.S. oil and gas production. It is the major cause of the doubling of fuel and food prices. Because of it, low- and fixed-income Vermonters will be strapped trying to eat and heat this winter.

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

They need to address it; it's their creation. I'm for pro-American policy, which helps all of us, and I will work with both parties to improve America. What's happening now, I can't support. We are all suffering from Biden-Democrat policy.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

Limiting malpractice suits. Today every hospital room and operating room can be taped. If a suit is filed, they go to the cloud and pull the video. If there is negligence on the doctor or the hospital, it will show up. Mediation can take place, or the suit is dismissed.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

Yes! All elected officials should have their holdings put into a blind trust to be returned when they leave office.

Dawn Marie Ellis

Age: 53
Town of Residence: Burlington
Occupation: Entrepreneur, Vermont Human Rights Commissioner, Researcher, Creative
Party affiliation: Independent
Website: DawnEllisforVT.com

What will be your top priority in office?

Protect rights for all to take care of ourselves and our children, including in health, education, community and privacy. Freedom to act without experiencing violence, interference, or retaliation, including in speech, voting/ running for office, and travel. I will fight so all may live, love, learn, and thrive without fear.

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

As an independent researcher, human rights leader and small business person, I speak across political differences. With experience serving Vermonters and the nation, I will highlight our common humanity and work on shared American needs. I’ll call out broken policies while offering innovative solutions, no matter who is in power.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

1) Wellness: Ongoing people-directed investments to stay well, get moving, connect and find balance; 2) Upstream: address housing and healthy food insecurity; 3) Protect: Disrupt systemic healthcare aggressions harming groups: inferior/excessive or weaponized diagnoses, treatments, providers, practices, and public health policies; 4) Business equity: Solo-entrepreneurs access businesses healthcare exchanges choices.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

I support the Ban Conflicted Trading Act as described to avoid both conflict and the perception of conflict of interest.

Cris Ericson

Age: 70
Town of residence:
Chester
Occupation: Artist
Party affiliation: Independent
Website: Politics2022.org

What will be your top priority in office?

I want to sponsor a bill to stop modern slavery. We pay tax dollars to the IRS, then the U.S. Congress votes to give billions of dollars in subsidies to big corporations that use our money to make profits for themselves. Where is our share?

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

Depending on which side might be short one person to become the majority party in control of the U.S. Senate, I would offer to switch from independent and go over to their side if, and only if, they would vote to make me U.S. Senate majority leader.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

We must end subsidies and instead offer corporations tax dollars only on terms of "ROI," return on investment, a share of profits made. We need our share for health care costs and other programs like fuel assistance, low-income housing, food stamps, glasses, dental care, prescription drugs, etc.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

Yes. Members of Congress should be banned from trading stocks. They are sitting on a gold mine of confidential information.

Gerald Malloy

Age: 60
Town of residence:
Perkinsville
Occupation: Retired Army officer/businessman
Party affiliation: Republican
Website: DeployMalloy.com

What will be your top priority in office?

The economy. Vermont families are suffering under recession/40-year-high inflation. Make no mistake, this is the fault of Washington. My career-politician opponent has repeatedly voted for the massive overspending causing our economic woes and America's crushing $31 trillion debt. It is time for change, a better future.

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

Leadership and performance. Solving problems, not just talking about them or creating them. I am running to represent all Vermonters, not just a select few. This is why I give my personal phone number to any voter who requests it. Work together as Americans to solve issues facing our country.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

First, make more health care costs tax-deductible. Second, allow Americans to buy insurance across state lines to increase the number of cheaper options. Third, increase price transparency so that Americans know the cost of a hospital item or service before receiving it. Fourth, reduce government influence and promote open-market competition.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

Yes. Vermonters have negative perceptions of congressmen about insider trading, becoming multimillionaires. I will serve Vermonters to eliminate misconduct perceptions.

Kerry Raheb

Age: 54
Town of residence:
Bennington
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Party affiliation: Independent
Website: KerryRaheb.com

What will be your top priority in office?

Inflation/economy, energy crisis, crime/law and order, border crisis, immigration, illegal drugs, childcare, parental rights, education, term limits, government spending.

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

This is one of the reasons why I am running as an independent. Congress mainly votes down party lines, which is a problem for America. Only bipartisan legislation should pass.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

Congress should start by prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from advertising prescription drugs direct to consumers. Only the U.S. and New Zealand allow this. Big Pharma spends nearly $7 billion annually on advertising. They could take that money to help cut drug costs.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

I have 20-plus years in investment banking. I support prohibiting members of Congress,

including immediate family members, from trading stocks.

Peter Welch

Age: 75
Town of residence:
Norwich
Occupation: Current U.S. Representative from Vermont
Party affiliation: Democrat
Website: WelchforVermont.com

What will be your top priority in office?

Protecting our democracy and defending voting rights so we can address the challenges facing Vermonters: the climate crisis, reproductive freedom and individual rights, and the affordability crisis. In the Senate, I will do everything I can to support policies that help working Vermonters and protect our democracy.

How would you address political polarization in the Senate?

It starts with the Vermont way, where we work together to find solutions for shared problems. I have always sought common ground and have a long record to back it up: on broadband, energy efficiency and burn pits legislation. I'll continue to bring this approach to D.C. in the Senate.

How should Congress address rapidly rising health care costs?

I recently helped pass legislation that will cut the skyrocketing cost of drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which finally loosens Big Pharma's grip on drug prices. This will begin to lower costs for working families. I am also a strong supporter of Medicare for All.

Would you support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office?

Yes, I strongly support the STOCK Act and the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which would ban members from trading individual stocks.