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Term Limits & Lobbying Ban

I strongly believe in term limits for all members of Congress: 12 years (2 terms) for Senators and 10 years (5 terms) for Representatives. We must ban all forms of lobbying from formerly elected federal office-holders. This will help prevent lawmakers from cashing in at the expense of their constituents and all American taxpayers.

Campaign Finance Reform

We must work to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision. Corporations are not people, and they shouldn’t be able to buy congressmen and women. There is no place for dark money in politics, and we should not be electing people who take one cent from corporations or lobbying groups, and do not disclose where every dollar comes from. Super PACs are just a form of bribery and should have no place in our politics. We need real campaign finance reform, and that includes passing a constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to regulate money in political campaigns. We need to stop electing legislators who refuse to be transparent about where their money comes from. We deserve to know if our elected officials are bought and paid for. Public funding for campaigns is the only fair way to ensure all citizens have a chance to run for office.

LGBTQ Rights

We have had a lot of success in expanding our rights over this past decade, but our fight is far from over. We still do not have national protections for all LGBTQ people. Therefore, passing the Equality Act, which expands the Civil Rights Act to include protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, must be a priority. LGBTQ citizens should also be protected from any discrimination, including adoption, medical care, military service, or foster parenting. We also need to pass legislation that protects transgender people and their rights as citizens. We must reject any policy or legislation that uses so-called “religious liberty” to discriminate against others. We must continue to be committed to ending discrimination in all forms.

Climate Change

As a farmer, I have been on the front lines of climate change. I have witnessed the destruction the weather has brought to friends’ farms due to flooding or the erosion that happens in our fields. I have also seen the number of diseases and pests skyrocket over this past decade. We must continue the work we have done to create a 21st century green economy by embracing all forms of sustainable energy, and the numerous jobs they create. America should be leading the world in the innovation and manufacturing of green, sustainable technology. Climate change is real, and we must do everything within our power to combat the effects of it, both here in the United States and throughout the world. Acknowledging it exists, so we can help reverse its effects, is imperative to our survival as a species. There is no planet B. We are currently the only country in the world not part of the Paris climate agreement, further weakening our stature as a global leader. To continue this path of denial is not only dangerous to our national security, and infrastructure; it is an abdication of our responsibility and leadership in the world.

Wages

We need a sustainable economy that works for all the working people of this country. We have seen the worst period of wage stagnation in our country’s history. While corporations stash trillions overseas and bring in record profits, our country’s minimum wage hasn’t gone up since 2009, and still sits at $7.25 an hour. We need to raise the minimum wage past a starvation wage to $15 an hour for all Americans. Putting more money in the hands of the working class will help lift people out of poverty while stimulating the economy and creating more opportunities for our younger generations.

Student Loan Debt and College Tuition

Our student loan debt is out of control. Students should not have to pay such high interest rates for their student loans after graduation. We need a national law that caps the interest rates for student loans at 3%. If America is to compete globally, we need to invest in our future generations by expanding our financial aid and work study programs, so that many students could receive reduced or free tuition at our public colleges and universities.

Healthcare

Healthcare is a human right, and every American should have access to affordable treatment. This means passing legislation for a universal healthcare system. Think of the anxiety we could eliminate from millions of Americans, if we all knew we would receive dignified healthcare, without the weight of financial hardship.

Women’s Rights

We need to end pay discrimination against women and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that ensures all women are paid equally for their work. We must also continue to fight for a women’s right to choose. The choice should always be between a woman and her doctor, and we must keep the government out of personal decisions. We must continue funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides essential healthcare services to millions of women each year. We must also ensure that all women who want birth control can obtain it through their insurance companies with no exemptions, since this is a woman’s right.

Voting Rights

We must ensure all Americans who are willing to participate in their democracy can. We have seen voter ID laws that are a directed at suppressing voters in poor and minority communities come into law all across the country, and this must stop. We should expand early voting to all states and make Election Day a federal holiday. We also must implement automatic voter registration so that all Americans will be registered to vote when they turn 18.

Criminal Justice Reform

Today, roughly 2.2 million Americans are in prison, and the majority are from minority communities. We have the largest prison population in the world. The vast expansion of our prison system is a direct result of our nation’s disastrous “War on Drugs,” which overwhelmingly targeted young black men in economically- depressed communities. Too many people are in prison today for minor drug offenses that are better dealt with through diversion and employment training programs. We need to decriminalize marijuana across the entire country and start implementing common sense solutions when it comes to drug offenders. It is time we eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. No one should be profiting from housing inmates in for-profit prisons, and we must do everything we can to reduce our incarceration rate. We need to implement stronger rehabilitation and employment training programs within prisons, so that those who serve their time are better prepared for life on the outside. We also need to work with all states to ensure felons who have served their time are allowed to have their voting rights immediately restored after they are released from prison.

Gun Rights

I support the second amendment. I am gun owner, hunter, and a fierce advocate for sportsmen and women. I believe we need laws to ensure public safety that do not infringe on anyone’s right to own a legal firearm under state and federal law. Hunting, gun ownership, and conservation are a part of many Vermonters’ identities and have strong roots in our state, and should be respected.

I am absolutely for Universal Background Checks. I do not believe this inhibits law-abiding citizens from obtaining firearms.

I was not a fan of the way the new gun laws were passed in Vermont. I believe the public is entitled to a hearing on each part of any legislation when we are regulating and creating laws around such a charged topic, that so many people have a stake in. There was a hearing on Universal Background Checks, but language about magazine limits was added after that hearing. Vermonters deserve their voices to be heard and I think there should have been a hearing on magazine limits and raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21. As a hunter, I personally do not need a clip and do not use one. My grandfather’s 32 Winchester Special was passed down to me which has a lever action and only holds 6 rounds with one in the chamber. This is the maximum number of cartridges allowed for hunting in Vermont, so if anyone is hunting with a magazine with over 6 rounds, they are hunting illegally. You can find this law under Vermont statutes, Title 10: Conservation and Development, Chapter 13: Game, Subchapter 1: General Provisions, statute 4704.

Automatic rifles are banned in this country, so no person can purchase a weapon that can fire round after round with the trigger depressed. I support the ban on automatic rifles 100%. I believe this is a misconception when we hear of mass shootings. With a semi-automatic weapon (which most hunting rifles are) each time you discharge a round you must pull the trigger. I am absolutely opposed to bump stocks or any other “add on” mechanism that would make a gun shoot any faster or with greater velocity.

I believe it is in the public good for Congress to fund a comprehensive study through the CDC on gun violence now that the Dickie Amendment has been lifted.

I believe we need to invest in mental health programs and school psychologists. It is imperative we have the resources available for our children so they have access to the people and programs needed to navigate complex issues that arise in their daily lives.

Immigration

We clearly have an illegal and legal immigration problem in our country. Unfortunately, our current Congress seems unable to work toward a solution that has been desperately needed for years. It is my view that due to the corporatization of both political parties they do not have the will to come together and fix this problem because both parties capitalize monetarily by campaigning off our immigration issues. Congress needs to come together and establish an updated immigration system that enforces our laws in humane ways, while streamlining applications for those legally entering the United States.

I am for strong border enforcement, through our border patrol and the technology we have available. I am not for spending billions of dollars on a wall that I feel will do little in the way of deterring folks from attempting to cross illegally, not to mention the fact that, geographically, it is not structurally possible in some areas.  Our money is better spent on investing in our crumbling infrastructure and educating our future generations.

It is time to find a pathway to citizenship for children brought to this country illegally (DREAMers), so that they may become full members of our communities without living in fear that they will be deported. It is time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

For others not covered under the DREAM Act who may have illegally come into the United States, but have been living here, working, and paying taxes, it is also time to end their fear of being deported and come up with a pathway to citizenship, so they too can come out of the shadows and be full members of our communities. President Reagan granted amnesty and citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and it can be done again. We must come together to find reasonable solutions that will help to heal our divide.

I believe separating children from families is morally wrong and goes against our deepest-held American values. I believe we cannot have open borders, but we can have an immigration system that works more efficiently. One solution for our current situation is to hire more immigration judges allowing for greater efficiency in the system, instead of the backlog of cases we are seeing today.

I believe we should not be demonizing those who seek a better life, but giving everyone the same opportunity to legally enter this country and be productive citizens.  Much of the legal immigration to our country is an employment-based system that looks at our economic needs and sponsorship by employers. We must ensure we take care of our citizens who live here and that Americans have a pathway to upward mobility, before setting our legal employment-based immigration numbers. Humanitarian and refugee immigration is something we should always participate in, as a leader and beacon of hope in the world.

The bottom line is this: Congress must do more to assure all Americans that our government takes border and employment security seriously.

Racial Justice

This is a topic that I am committed to learning more about every chance I get. I believe racial justice is imperative in creating an equal society for all. I have collaborated with several community members in helping me to create this platform of ideas and possible solutions, which are needed and can be implemented now. I encourage anyone who has more to add, to please contact me, so that I may be a better informed candidate.

I believe racial justice begins with education. Therefore, developing and implementing multicultural and diverse curricula in Vermont schools is a priority. We should set goals for every school district to have a racially, and ethnically diverse workforce, from teachers, and school board members, to administration and support staff. We should have high level training for all public education employees that includes classroom management based upon difficult discussions, awareness, and identifying and avoiding bias, and encourage innovative curricula around diversity and equality. We should be looking to outside organizations to help assist in these trainings, and holding workshops and forums for parents and citizens, establishing support for more community involvement.

When it comes to criminal justice and policing we still have a long way to go in understanding how bias is functioning and perpetuated in our justice system. We must begin to fully understand the problem before implementing the solutions needed. We need to look at police stops, arrests, courtroom representation, sentencing and how hate crimes, among other important issues, are handled. We need rigorous accountability and bias training programs for our police forces in Vermont that are updated and implemented on a frequent basis. This is lifelong training that should be mandated for all officers so they are explicitly aware they will be held accountable for any and all infractions. We also need to implement a strong civilian oversight board that oversees our criminal justice and policing systems in our state.

We need to be aware that diversity in our government is extremely important and that we need the voices of people of color in every aspect of our political system. People of color need to be represented when decisions are being made at every level of our federal, state, and local governments. We also need to have all members of our local and state governments undergo racial justice training, so that they have a better understanding of issues facing people of color while voting, making decisions, and legislating.

We also need active community dialogue with people of color to better understand their realities of living in Vermont. It is imperative that we all come together to listen and learn in order to be better-informed advocates for racial justice, allowing us to move forward together.

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