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Middlebury & Bennington, VT – Today, gubernatorial candidates gathered for two panels hosted by Rights & Democracy, a new grassroots organization focused on issues facing working families. Democrats Matt Dunne, Peter Galbraith, and Sue Minter, as well as Republican Bruce Lisman attended. There were nearly 150 local attendees at the panel in Middlebury, and over 100 in Bennington. Economic revitalization, raising the minimum wage, climate change, paid family leave, diversity, and water quality were among the topics covered.
“It was nice to hear the views,” said Lee Russ of Bennington. “We’ll have trouble deciding because they’re all in favor of good paying jobs, a clean environment, and quality education. The question is how we get there, and we need more specifics.”
Republican candidate Phil Scott declined to attend days after Rights & Democracy endorsed Senator Sanders for President. “I’m not convinced my candidate would get fair and equal treatment at a forum hosted by a very liberal organization. Therefore, we would like to respectfully decline participation in your organization’s forums,” wrote Scott Campaign Manager Brittney Wilson. Prior to the Sanders endorsement, Scott’s campaign was amenable to attending Rights & Democracy events, and worked with the organization to find a date for the panels.
"As a working class college student invested in issues of economic justice, I was excited to hear how candidates will work to create a Vermont that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected. I hope candidates will adopt even more progressive policies surrounding racial justice in Vermont and taking hard stances against the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. I was disappointed that Phil Scott refused to show up to discuss issues that matter most to Vermonters," said Dan Adamek, a student at Middlebury College.
“We’re grateful you’ve come all the way south to discuss things with us on an individual basis,” said moderator Mary Gerish of Bennington during her introduction of the candidates. After the panel she said, “People kept coming up to me to tell me how great it was to hear from the candidates.”