BENNINGTON — Four gubernatorial candidates visited Bennington Saturday afternoon for a free public forum sponsored by Rights and Democracy Vermont.

Democratic candidates in attendance included: Matt Dunne, a former state senator who ran for governor in 2010 and has also headed the Americorps VISTA program and ran community affairs for Google out of its White River Junction office; Sue Minter, a former state representative and former secretary of transportation; and Peter Galbraith, a former state senator and U.S. ambassador to Croatia. Republican candidate Bruce Lisman, a retired banker, was also in attendance. The final major candidate, Republican Phil Scott, a former state senator and current lieutenant governor, declined to attend, with his campaign manager citing "significant concerns about [Rights and Democracy's] extreme tactics and respect for those with whom they disagree."

The event was hosted at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Bennington, and ran from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. It was followed by a meet-and-greet with the candidates.

The forum began with opening statements from the candidates. The moderators were Ken Sigsbury and Mary Gerisch.

"We appreciate your time in coming all the way south to speak to us on an individual level," said Gerisch. She noted Scott's absence, saying, "Phil Scott declined to attend this event not because he had a conflict, but because he thought he would not get a fair shot." The audience gave Lisman a round of applause for attending.