Brad’s Vermont Plan
Vermonters deserve a full-time Senator who is laser-focused on the needs of improving and growing our state and its economy. I will be that Senator. I have no higher ambition, and I am not looking to be President—I am looking to put Vermont first. My motto is this: “What is good for Vermont is good for the rest of the country.” We need to be focusing on getting our rural economies working again, and transform into a sustainable, connected state where our young adults and families don’t move away because they can’t make it here. Vermonters deserve a champion, with fresh ideas, innovation, and a vision for its future. Vermonters deserve a Senator who is willing to lead by example.
I don’t make lofty promises that I may not be able to deliver on, but what I can say is that I love this state and the people of this state, and I will work my tail off to help lift everyone up. I love to learn and will hit the ground running and won’t stop working for you. I will be looking to all Vermonters for help with ideas and possible solutions to the multiple challenges we face. I want to be held accountable. Whether we agree on an issue or not, I want to hear your ideas on how we can move our state forward together.
Here are 2 things I can deliver on before even being elected to office:
Self-imposed term limits:
2 terms (12 years.) I am a strong proponent of term limits and believe it is the key not only to get money out of politics, but to end the stalemate on so many difficult issues facing our country. When you have a limited amount of terms, not only are you going to want to get as much as you can done when you are there, but you don’t have to continuously raise money for your next campaign.
Unlike my opponent, I don’t just talk about campaign finance reform—I have actually proposed a plan and spending cap. I will never spend more than $225,000 on a campaign here in Vermont, nor will I take a dime from corporations, SuperPACs, or PACs. In this proposal, I have addressed the immense power of incumbency by limiting the incumbent to raising 85% of the $225,000 cap. I still think this is an insane amount of money to spend on a public service position, so I have said my main goal is to spend the least amount of money possible, while still running a viable campaign. Just to put it into perspective: most Vermonters have to work over 4 years to make $225,000, so imagine what we could be doing to help lift Vermonters up by not spending millions of dollars on campaigns, and instead putting those resources to better use.
Jobs & Our Green Economy
Creating livable wage jobs in Vermont is vital to retaining our youth. Part of expanding our economy should be on the green jobs of our future. Wind and solar are a beginning to helping solve some of our needs to move away from fossil fuels, but battery storage and hydro should be apart of our mix as well. We have over 1,000 hydro damns in Vermont that are currently not being utilized. Why are we buying power from Hydro Quebec, when we could be producing a lot of our own energy in Vermont, by investing in, and rehabilitating these hydro projects? Vermont is a small state, with so much potential and I would make it my mission to talk to existing businesses about expanding and potential businesses about moving to Vermont. We are having a hard time competing against larger states who can offer more tax breaks and incentives to larger companies. I believe it is time to level that playing field, so that smaller states have a fair shot at recruiting more businesses. We are an agricultural state and the roots in farming are woven into many of our identities. Vermont would benefit greatly with more regional food hubs where farms could diversify and create value-added products. Helping farms vertically integrate their products would also create more jobs and benefit farmers’ bottom lines. With the right programs and allocation of resources through private and federal money we could create rural, livable wage, sustainable jobs in both farming and production. Vermont has the markets of New York City, Hartford, Albany, Boston, and Montreal, all within a short distance, and just waiting for more healthy, sustainable food options. These are just a few ideas of many that are ready to be implemented with the right vision, leadership and focus on our rural economy and state. Vermont can be a leader in farming innovation and production, while growing our rural economies as well as preserving our farms and lands for generations to come.
Affordable Housing & Infrastructure
Vermont has an affordable housing crisis and this is severely inhibiting growth in our state. Many young people and families can’t find the affordable housing that allows them to stay in Vermont and prosper, so we continue to see a flight of young Vermonters out of our state. This is not a sustainable model for us. We must think about our future and how we can build more housing while preserving our natural wildlife and landscapes. We must think about building our small cities up, not out. We should focus on municipal infrastructure, expanding water lines, walkways, bike lanes, fiber optic and sewer lines so that we are able to expand our downtowns. This will also help to clean up our environment as more Vermonters will not have to commute into work. We live in a connected world and if rural Vermont can not keep up with the times, it will be left behind. Securing the funding for rural economic development so that we can lay fiber optic cable throughout the state should be one of the top priorities of our Congressional delegation. Making sure we have the ability to be connected will allow many existing and future businesses the opportunity to thrive here. This will also help our rural economies as we will have the ability to retain our younger people, thus balancing out our aging population so we have the workers needed for our future. Being connected also gives Vermonters the ability to work from home, or start businesses in smaller towns.
Saving Our Family Farms
As a farmer, I know the hard work and dedication it takes to survive this profession. Much of farming includes long days, uncertainty, and little pay, and yet farmers have a love for their work few others find in their careers. We are in danger of losing part of our Vermont identity, however, if something is not done soon. We have lost almost 80 family dairy farms since the beginning of 2018 alone, and that is not a typo folks— since the beginning of this year! We have seen suicide letters sent out to dairy farmers with their milk checks because the prices have fallen so much many farms can not stay above water, resulting in multi-generation farmers forced to sell off their family farms, and the only way of life they have ever known. This has created despair among many, leading to an increase in suicides among our neighbors. Smaller farms are forced into selling to larger farms, and this is beginning to create a Big Ag feel in the dairy industry here. This begs the question: is that what we want our dairy farms to turn into? I have studied the antiquated milk pricing system, a system that is skewed heavily in favor of companies, not the farmers producing the product. The system is so complex that after reading over it several times and asking people to explain it to me, I still don’t know how our federal government comes up with the price. We desperately need a milk pricing system in our dairy industry that is stable and allows our small family farms to continue operating and make money. There are numerous innovative ideas and systems already in place that we can look to, and it is time for our elected officials in Washington to act. Our neighbors to the north in Canada have implemented a quota system that has been holding strong for generations now, which allows stable, steady pricing and is very popular among most farmers there. Another idea is to create regional cooperatives that meet monthly to go over demand and set the prices accordingly. Any way you slice it, the current system is unsustainable and if we do not act soon, we will lose many more farms here in Vermont.
Preserving our Environment
Many of us live in Vermont for its natural beauty, our clean, drinkable water, vast tracks of woodlands and trails, and the soils that help to produce some of the best food you can eat. This is all under threat, and we must do everything in our power to not only preserve our environment and landscape, but help clean it up. There are many lakes and rivers in Vermont that are polluted due to toxic run off and sewage, and if we don’t address the problem soon, I fear we will begin to lose our place as a beautiful natural paradise. When we have tourists come to swim in Lake Champlain or other waterways only to have them closed due to algae blooms, e-coli, or sewage, our reputation begins to suffer. Year after year we hear about the closure of beaches, and this is becoming more frequent. We need a regional approach to cleaning up our waterways. Vermonters should not be the only ones paying for cleanup, when we share many of our lakes, rivers, and streams with our neighbors all around. Our Congressional delegation should be working with New York, New Hampshire, and Canada on finding the resources needed for lake and river clean up. Perhaps it is time that we start implementing buffer zones between farmlands that use pesticides and herbicides near our waterways, and help those farmers diversify by planting hemp, or other grasses that can be used for haying, to reduce the leaching of those chemicals into our waterways. We need to find the federal resources to help replace our aging sewer infrastructure so that we won’t have runoff that dumps into our lakes. We also need to be thinking about our farming practices and how we can keep our soils healthy, and in production. Vermont has the opportunity to be a leader in the green economy, and we already have innovative companies who are helping to lead the way. We can grow our economy and create jobs while preserving and cleaning our environment.
Tackling the Opioid Epidemic
There are times in our country’s history when we are faced with a choice. Do we sit idly by and watch a generation die, or do we act and do our best to help solve one of the biggest issues of our day? Opioid addiction is a disease and it does not discriminate. We have already lost hundreds of thousands of lives due to this epidemic and will lose thousands more every month with no end in sight. Our federal government is falling down on its job, refusing to take the steps necessary to truly combat this disease. We need to hold drug companies accountable and we need to start making insurance companies pay for adequate treatment. The drug companies are now making millions of dollars off an epidemic they created and this needs to end. We need to demand that the companies responsible for creating this epidemic produce any medication that is proven to help people in recovery at no cost. Unfortunately, medication does not work for everyone and more intense treatment is needed. Therefore, drug and insurance companies should be paying for adequate treatment and more treatment facilities. This alone will not solve the problems we are facing. People need to feel like they belong in our communities and need assistance in finding the support necessary for them to stay sober and get their lives back on track. One idea I have been very enthusiastic about is starting a recovery farm and trades facility, where people can go for treatment while working and learning new skills so that they can regain the confidence and connection needed to live a more wholesome life. This will not only help people recovering, but can serve as a food hub and learning facility for farmers and other members of our communities. I believe we need to think beyond traditional recovery facilities and more about building and strengthening life skills, confidence, and community.
Healthcare and Prescription Drug Pricing
I believe healthcare is a human right and we must do everything within our power to work towards a more sustainable, affordable model. Universal Health Care is a great goal, and I am pleased it has become a movement in our country, this is the beginning. Getting to full Universal healthcare will take years, but laying the groundwork for the eventual implementation is extremely important. A part of that is lowering prescription drug pricing by establishing a national board, much like the Veterans Administration has to negotiate prescription drug prices. Big Pharma needs to be reined in and I will work to make this a reality. I am very much in favor of lowering the age of Medicare and providing all children in America universal coverage. Think of the stresses we could eliminate from families if they knew their children would be covered throughout their childhoods.
Everyone deserves to have an education that fits them. College is not for everyone and not affordable for many Vermont families these days. I believe we should be focusing on our Community Colleges and Trade Schools here in Vermont. I see a desperate need for skilled trades people in our state and these are good paying, sustainable jobs that we should be encouraging our youth to look into. Investing in and promoting our community colleges to students is extremely important. Many Vermonters qualify for Pell Grants, other grants and scholarships making our community college system extremely affordable if not free for many. They also provide the flexibility of working and going to school for those that don’t have the option of being full-time students. Hiring more full-time career counselors in our high schools that work with the businesses in our communities who are seeking employees would be a valuable asset to students and parents. We need to promote the alternative methods of education to our youth, so they know there are other options for them besides going to college, and letting them know college is not a prerequisite to success in life. I will also work tirelessly to implement a universal Pre-K program for Vermont and the rest of the country.
Rural Economic Development
Vermont is a mostly rural state and we must do better in creating sustainable jobs while preserving and growing small business that are the backbone of our economy. Every one of my points above plays a key role in the economic development of our rural areas. Strengthening farming by stabilizing milk prices and building regional food hubs, growing our green jobs, cleaning up and preserving our land, air and waterways, getting our entire state connected, providing more job training programs, lifting people up and creating more sustainable, affordable housing are all ways we can grow our economy. My focus will be on rural economic development, strengthening and re-building our communities, revitalizing our downtowns and providing Vermonters with the resources needed to create an affordable, healthy, wholesome life here where we all belong in a place we are proud to call home.