Independent Jerry Trudell photo by Amanda B. Cashin
By Shay Totten | Vermont Guardian
Posted October 20, 2006
Editor’s Note: There are additional candidate statements, and answers to questions posed by the Guardian here. We hope to include additional statements in the next two weeks.
BURLINGTON — It’s a chilly October morning, and independent candidate for the U.S. House Jerry Trudell is staging a one-man protest in front of the state’s largest daily newspaper.
Carrying signs charging The Burlington Free Press with being “unfair to democracy,” Trudell’s aim was to get the paper to pay more attention to the “other” candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot. His effort had the backing of at least five other candidates, and the group released a statement asking the Free Press to feature the candidates before the election, and offering them some space to get their ideas known to the public.
Michael Townsend, the paper’s executive editor, cited the paper’s “liberal policy” regarding letters to the editor.
“It seems so simple for a candidate on his or her own to take advantage of our very liberal letters policy to make views known,” Townsend told the Guardian. “The Tarrant and Sanders supporters certainly have figured that out as have hundreds of other letter writers who are not sophisticated political operatives. If a candidate chooses to ignore that wide-open policy, there is not much I can do about that.”
At least two of the candidates who joined Trudell in a call for more coverage, Townsend said, have submitted letters to the editor. That said, the paper will provide coverage of the minor party and independent candidates, Townsend added.
Other mainstream media outlets, such as Vermont Public Radio, the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV-FM, as well as Vermont Public Television, which reach large portions, if not all, of the state, do include lesser-known candidates on a regular basis.
The Charlie and Ernie Show on WVMT-AM also opens up their microphones the day before Election Day to any candidate for 60 seconds. The catch: Candidates have to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.
The main stage for Vermont’s independent, minor party, and even some major party candidates like those under the Liberty Union banner, is the “Super Sunday” candidate debates on Vermont Public Television. The six-hour debate features candidates for the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate.
Liberty Union candidates are the ones who often are included in more debates than others — that’s because they are considered a major party in Vermont. That means, a statewide candidate earned more than 5 percent of the vote in the most recent election and the party has 15 town committees throughout the state.
There are four major parties in Vermont: Democratic, Republican, Progressive, and Liberty Union.
One of the party’s longtime torchbearers — Peter Diamondstone — is again a candidate, this year for U.S. Senate. In 1996, Diamondstone was arrested after disrupting a statewide, televised debate from the well of the Statehouse.
Still, despite being a major party, Liberty Union members are like the Rodney Dangerfields of Vermont politics — they don’t get no respect. At a recent debate sponsored by AARP, Diamondstone was not allowed to participate.
So, in true fashion, he stood outside the debate carrying a sign with a paraphrase of John Stuart Mill: “Silencing an opinion robs the whole human race.”
U. S. Senate
I do not raise or spend money on name recognition advertising. If elected, I will introduce legislation and organize co-sponsors to provide:
A new U.S. DUD (Department of Un-Do) to reverse tax cuts for the rich, re-establish the inheritance tax, not privatize Social Security, un-do excessive national debt and budget imbalance, not use religion as a political weapon, stop senseless wars, and every other anti-social act and action. The department will report directly to the voters, and be staffed by Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, and their supporters.
Environment and Energy Emergency Act [ENEMA] to replace oil with liquid hydrogen in an 18-month all-out crash program, supplemented by solar and hydroelectric power, to address environmental degradation, global warming, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, excessive oil and gasoline prices, peak oil, and the hatred fueling Islamic terrorism.
Initiative, Referendum, and Recall as in California, so voters control legislation.
Televoters Act to convert all televisions to two-way communication, to conduct nationwide non-binding same-day opinion surveys, to replace manipulated and manipulative small-sample surveys.
Justice for underdogs by replacing patronage judges with experienced, fair, and honest jurors, and teaching high-school students legal skills to protect their rights without lawyers.
A federal fairness doctrine law to pool all financing for each elective office to create a level playing field, and equal media access in elections.
Secure health care for all by Medicare for all, regardless of age and employment.
Secure employment: Prevent management stock ownership, pay them by the size of the workforce like middle managers, and give every employee a legal right to his/her job. Termination only for just cause after trial by jury. To discourage job exports, goods made by exported jobs to be taxed so imports are less profitable than domestic products. Also, abolish corporate personhood.
Secure Social Security: prohibit privatizing and “borrowing” from the Social Security Trust Fund. Amend the Constitution, making Social Security the senior obligation of the U.S. in perpetuity.
Reparations for all victims of discrimination in employment based on age, race, gender, national origin, disability, or any other impermissible factor not affecting job performance.
Impeach Bush Now
Our democracy is in the toilet. Really. This is not and cannot be seen as an election-as-usual. We have suffered a coup in my opinion. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are lawbreakers who must be impeached and removed from office. And all their supporting and Constitution-subverting, war-making neocon appointees must be kicked out with them. Further, we need to “Fire Congress”! Congress is corrupt. Congress is the real power in our U.S. political system and this Congress is not our Congress. It has been installed and “bought and sold” by hidden and malevolent monied corporate interests.
That’s why I am running for Congress — to begin the struggle to retake the government that has so clearly been stolen from us. Running to first remove the symbols, the figureheads of this larceny, and then to cut into its flesh and bone.
There is almost no time left. The matter is urgent. We have here in our beloved United States totalitarians in power.
While this continues, war and more wars will continue, and no urgent problems that need addressing by a truly representative and creative government will find solutions. We do not have honest problem solvers in the seats of power anymore. We have corruption sitting in our seats. We must begin right away — all of us, not just me, all of us — the process of retaking our seats inside government.
Neither lawyer Peter Welch (a hidden Bush supporter) nor General Martha Rainville (an in-the-open one) are equipped intellectually or morally to do anything at all about all of this. I am.
I would prefer to remain retired. I would prefer to go fishing, chase pretty women, and enjoy some decent wine, believe me. But I cannot ignore the loss of my country to these beasts, or our democracy.
We need a voice for the people in the House and we will be losing it when Bernie Sanders moves on if we don’t replace him with another independent who puts us first.
I am a lifetime resident of Springfield and a graduate of Johnson State College; I am a small business owner, operating Stern’s Quality Produce in White River Junction for more than 20 years. I have been married to my wife Judy for 24 years and have a stepdaughter Beth and two teenage grandchildren Kate and Ryan. I have served on the Springfield zoning board for 10 years as a way of giving back to the community. I am not well known around the state because I am not independently wealthy. That is one reason that I am the best candidate to serve you because I am one of you.
I am a fiscal conservative, realizing that waste in government leads to unnecessary taxation. Government exists to help the citizens, not hinder them.
I believe every candidate should publish a contract with their future constituents. This is my “Contract with Vermont.” If elected, I promise that I will:
- Put U.S. citizens and especially Vermonters first in any bill I vote for.
- Vote against any legislation that will be detrimental to the working class. I will protect the rights of U.S. workers.
- Work to make health care affordable (and accessible) to all citizens.
- Push to develop and use renewable alternative fuels and eliminate the need for fossil fuels as quickly as humanly possible.
- Introduce legislation to exexempt the first $75,000 from income tax with a flat tax above that threshold so that most of us are exempt.
- Work to ensure Social Security is solvent forever by pushing to eliminate the income cap on the FICA tax. The wealthy now pay less by percentage than the working class.
- Never take any special interest money; I will be accountable only to the “people I represent.”
- Work to reduce government size and waste to create a smaller, more efficient government that cuts waste and is less intrusive in personal lives.
- Lead the way to replace our failed foreign policy with a treaty of nonaggression and basic human rights.
- Push for tougher environmental laws to protect our water, land, and air.
I am running a “campaign of ideas” because we need new ideas. My primary idea is a transportation and biofuel initiative, because transportation is the second largest household expense for most Vermonters. I would begin this initiative by using my own salary as Congressman to begin financing the system. I would purchase pre-owned minivans and buses, and would also set up a transportation co-op similar to the Rural Community Transit, to create a structure for this project. Since this would be structured as a nonprofit co-op, there would not be a fare required for residents. This alone could provide a significant economic boost to the economy by putting money directly in the pockets of working people and creating more commerce throughout the state (trickle up economics).
The first vans would run in the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) as the NEK is the most remote and economically challenged region of Vermont. Another aspect of my proposal is a biofuels initiative, with the goal of producing all of the fuel for the fleet of vans right here in Vermont. On this initiative, I would work “hands on” using my own background expertise to work with the community directly to organize this as a community-based initiative.
Expansion of the system could be easily funded by diverting money from boondoggle projects, such as a $183 million beltway around Burlington, or the so called “southern connector,” a proposed waste of $18 million.
The key to solving the challenges of the 21st century is a clear vision with the necessary financial investment.
The Root of the Matter: Corporate Control or People Control?
When I ask people to choose me as Vermont’s next governor, they naturally want to know where I stand on the issues that concern them.
I believe that the majority of issues facing Vermonters find their root in one greater issue: the control of political power. If the well-being of the people was the top priority of state government, then wouldn’t every Vermonter already have affordable access to doctors and dentists? If our well-being was the priority of those who govern, wouldn’t rates of cancer, autism, and depression be going down rather than up?
If we held a statewide referendum and asked Vermonters whether we would prefer higher taxes on our homes or higher taxes on corporate profits and pollution, what do you think we would choose? If we were consulted, would we vote to allow corporations to determine the outcome of elections through gifts of cash to political campaigns? Would we allow people to be caged for violating corporate monopolies on food and drugs? Would we send those dedicated to guarding Vermont to foreign countries that have never evidenced an intent to invade Green Mountain soil? Would we force ourselves and our children into debt in order to afford the education that many countries offer freely to their people?
What will we choose?
I believe that life in Vermont would be better if the people truly guided state law and policy. If we, as a people, can regain control of our state government, then surely we will choose our well-being over the limited interests of a few people disguising themselves as for-profit corporations.
As governor, I will serve the well-being of our people as I create a budget and policy agenda that encourages more democratic participation in politics, education, and business.
Together we will restore democratic control of our government and insure that only real people may participate in the political process. We will invest in education and develop a diverse and sustainable economy that features a broad base of local ownership. We will help farmers and local business people bring their own products and services profitably to market. We will make sure that all Vermonters earn enough to live and still have enough time to be with their children and other loved ones. We will make sure that all Vermonters get the medical and dental care they deserve. We will enjoy clean water and air and delicious maple syrup for many generations. We will do these things because we care enough to take care of ourselves.
A call for justice and ethics in Vermont
My global view includes a deep respect for the law. The most important qualification for the office of attorney general is an absolute, unwavering commitment to justice for all, young and old, rich and poor ... no politics, no cronyism, and no excuses.
It is the attorney general’s office that is the gateway to justice, not only in criminal matters but also in civil cases. When a citizen is injured or killed by the state, it is the office of the attorney general that represents the government and opposes the injured citizen in court.
Some suggestions for improving the Office of the Attorney General include:
- Change the culture in the attorney general’s office. A strict code of ethics is needed.
- The common practice of paying for testimony during a trial should be discouraged.
- An official blog should be set up so that citizens could exchange information when they have a problem with the state. For those without computers, a toll-free phone line should be set up. An independent, non-political Office of Citizen Advocate should be authorized. It should be paid for out of the budget of the attorney general. No new taxpayer funds are necessary.
- A committee comprised of farmers, plumbers, factory workers, teachers, retail workers, etc. is needed. This committee would act as a citizen watchdog group and oversee the policies of the office of the attorney general.
- The mission of the attorney general’s office should be the pursuit of justice. The policy of “winning” court cases against injured citizens should be ended.