MANCHESTER - With the primary election a little less than two weeks away, the candidates for governor are trying to get their message to the people. Emily Peyton and Steve Berry are both vying for the spot on the Republican ticket in November, against Scott Milne. H. Brooke Paige will go up against incumbent Peter Shumlin.

Peyton, who has run as an independent the last two election cycles decided to run this time as a Republican.

"I chose to be a Republican because the party system has failed us and the way they have is by developing an election process that favors the two parties and discriminates against Independents or anybody outside the parties," she said in a phone interview.

She chose the weakest party, she said, to try and gain more insight into the disconnect between Democrats and Republicans in Vermont. She said Republicans in the state think all liberals want higher taxes, which Peyton said no one really wants. Also, Peyton said she feels there is a belief amongst Republicans that they work harder than Democrats, which she said again is not true.

Other than a party system that excludes smaller parties and Independents, Peyton feels that the largest problem facing Vermont is how money circulates through the economy.

"It's [money] not circulating appropriately through the economy, through all branches, creating that flow of value so everybody can partake," she said.


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Along with the flow of capital, Vermont has problems facing both education in the state and health care. Peyton said costs can be lowered with more local control and freeing up the state from federal mandates. By creating a template for communities to use, if they so choose, she said, costs can be lowered and some of the issues that increase funding - like special education - can be reduced. By freeing up creativity and fostering the uniqueness of all children, she said, costs per pupil would drop.

Emily Peyton
Emily Peyton

"Instead of going down a road of homogenizing with the rest of the country through common core instead I would go exactly the opposite direction," she said.

With healthcare, Peyton would drop single payer in it's entirety. Instead, she said she would take the money that has already been used in website development and bring it directly to the people. With $84 million, she said she would open a clinic in every town in Vermont, with a nurse practitioner and a general practitioner, give them a competitive salary, as well as an operating budget. Along with this direct care system, Peyton said the stressors causing high health care costs need to be examined.

"In order to have high health and not have high healthcare costs we must not defile our air and water and we have to have a food supply that is whole without additives and preservatives," she said.

Peyton said, if elected, she would also support legalizing both hemp and marijuana. She said with agricultural hemp, she would purchase a portion of seeds and other hemp materials, give it to the universities in the state and have experts come in and teach students all the different ways it can be used, creating new entrepreneurs. As for marijuana, she would slowly phase in its legalization, first through cultivation and then sale, while regulating the sale of products like edibles.

Steve Berry is another Republican in the race. The marketing professional from Wolcott called himself a Ronald Reagan Republican in a phone interview. He decided to run for Governor when Andy Brock decided not to.

"Shumlin and the Democrats are spending two times as much as is coming in," he said. "I know they're not handling their own checking accounts like they're handling the state of Vermont's checking account."

Berry said Vermont has become nothing but a "welfare state" and "a playground for the rich."

He said Vermont's problems started when family farms were bought out by the state. He said the strength of the country and the state were family farms.

"We're slowly slipping into socialism where the average person believes the government knows best," he said. 

He called the current healthcare discussion a train wreck and said free market principles would be the fix. Socialized medicine does not work, he said and single payer won't work either.

Competition should also be involved in fixing problems facing education. Common Core, he said, takes responsibility in education away from parents and gives it to bureaucrats. Common Core, he said was pure socialism. Local control and school choice will solve any education spending issue.

Finally, H. Brooke Paige is running not only as a Democrat for Governor but also for Attorney General. In 2012, he ran as a Republican against John McGovern in the primary for U.S. Senate. Paige said this time around he's running as a Democrat because no one was running against Shumlin that had a chance of winning.

"I sincerely believe I can beat Mr. Shumlin," he said in an interview.

He is also running for attorney general because he said he does not think Bill Sorrell, the current attorney general, is worried about the real issues. He mentioned when Sorrell announced his candidacy to seek reelection, he did not mention the state's drug problem, which Paige found problematic.

Health care is what Paige said is the biggest problem currently facing the state. He said if "Shumlin care" continues moving forward, Shumlin will be the first to bankrupt a state.

"There is no problem with healthcare in the state, we just have a financing issue," he said. "Why did we go through all this? Because Mr. Shumlin desires to have Senator Pat Leahy's job."

He said instead of single payer, the state should reinstate Catamount Care, keep Dr. Dynosaur for children and put VACE, the chamber of commerce insurance company for small businesses back in place. All this can be done to help insure the people that need insurance. Paige said the number of about 30,000 Vermonters who were uninsured was really closed to half that. The other 15,000, he said, were young people who did not want insurance and the wealthy who didn't want to pay insurance premiums.

Paige would also implement a plan that has three components to help keep healthcare costs down. He said he would reform certificates of need, because it is controlled by big hospitals and prevents smaller hospitals from increasing their size. He would also implement tort reform and would allow out of state insurance companies into the marketplace to help draw prices down.

Paige said the state wants to control healthcare and the same goes with education.

"They want to see this control of school [as a way] to payback to their union friends for supporting them," he said.

He said the state has already told everyone there should not be any savings as a result of school consolidation. He said he is a supporter of local control and thinks there is great importance for communities and families to have control of their school systems. A way to bring costs down, he said, would be to have state and federal mandates, like some special education programs, come with funding.

"I have no problem spending what's necessary," he said.

Teaching not just Common Core and preparing students for work is not the only function of education, he said. Vermont should also be educating good citizens and voters.

The primary election is Tuesday Aug. 26.