Matt Dunne

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Minter unveils economic development plan

BARRE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter has unveiled her plan to stimulate economic growth in Vermont. Minter stood before the City Place building on Monday to share her plan to invest in downtowns such as Barre, while calling for investment in agriculture, manufacturing, energy efficiency and the tech sector. “Too many people are struggling in an economy that is stacked against them,” said Minter, who highlighted the public-private partnerships in Barre that have led to a revitalization of the downtown. The state has invested $19 million dollars in downtown Barre, resulting in $45 million in private investment, a move that led to the construction of the City Place building, which houses both state offices and private businesses. Minter said that, in her first year as governor, the state would award money to three communities, who will be chosen through a competitive process. Continue Reading →

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VSEA, Democratic candidates call for funding labor contract

Vermont State Employees Association Executive Director Steve Howard calls for lawmakers to fully fund a new labor contract at a State House news conference. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Employees Association and the three Democratic candidates for governor are calling on lawmakers to fully fund a new labor contract for state workers recommended by the Vermont Labor Relations Board, but Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin says it is too costly. The VSEA and the candidates — Matt Dunne, Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith — held a State House news conference Wednesday calling on the Legislature to include a 2 percent salary increase for state workers in the 2017 fiscal year state budget and a 2.25 percent increase in the 2018 fiscal year budget. That increase was recommended by the Vermont Labor Relations Board Tuesday in a 3 to 2 split decision over the Shumlin administration’s proposal for a 1 percent increase in 2017 and a 1.25 percent increase in 2018. VSEA President Dave Bellini said Wednesday the union has been seeking a fair contract through collective bargaining since last August that respects state employees. “You show respect and support by putting your money where your mouth is — funding our contracts, our retirements, making investments in safety for the hardworking Vermonters who are state employees,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Story & Video: Gubernatorial candidates pounce on alleged EB-5 fraud, call for transparency and release of documents

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith calls for an independent commission to investigate the state's role in EB-5 projects that are the subject of civil fraud litigation. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Candidates seeking to succeed Gov. Peter Shumlin are calling for transparency and one is seeking an independent commission to review the state’s involvement as a federal and state fraud case against two Northeast Kingdom developers proceeds. Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith, a former Windham County state senator, held a State House news conference Monday to call for an independent commission appointed by the chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court to investigate the state’s role in the fraud case against Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros. The two men are facing civil litigation filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the state for allegedly misusing $200 million in investor funds they raised through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Quiros is accused of using $50 million of investor funds for his own personal gain. Galbraith said the two men have contributed significant amounts of money to Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Vermont Democratic Party and it should be determined if those contributions resulted in any favorable treatment for the EB-5 projects led by Quiros and Stenger at the Jay Peak and Q Burke Mountain resorts, and other projects in Newport. Continue Reading →

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Speaker set to decide his political future by early May

House Speaker Shap Smith

MONTPELIER — With the clock winding down on the legislative biennium, one major political question remains unanswered — the future of Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith. Smith, 50, was briefly a candidate for governor late last summer, hoping to succeed Gov. Peter Shumlin, a fellow Democrat who is not seeking a fourth term. He launched his gubernatorial bid in his hometown of Morrisville, flanked by dozens of the House members he has led for the previous seven years. But Smith suspended his campaign soon after when his wife, Dr. Melissa Volansky, began a battle with breast cancer. His focus shifted from a political race to ensuring the well-being of his wife, a physician, and their two children. Continue Reading →

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Story + Video: Galbraith launches Democratic bid for governor

Peter Galbraith announces his candidacy for governor Tuesday in the Cedar Creek Room of the State House in Montpelier. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — Peter Galbraith, a former Democratic state senator from Windham County, launched a campaign for governor Tuesday, promising to change a system of government that favors special interests over regular Vermonters. “I am a candidate for governor of Vermont,” Galbraith said at a State House news conference Tuesday morning. “This is a remarkable state, but that doesn’t mean we should continue to do things as we have.”

Galbraith, 65, served two terms in the Senate before announcing in 2014 that he would not seek re-election. The former diplomat was appointed United Nations’ Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan in 2009, and served as the first U.S. ambassador to Croatia under former President Bill Clinton. The Townsend resident, who will join a Democratic gubernatorial primary that already includes Matt Dunne, a former Windsor County state senator, and Sue Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, promised he would run the state differently than others. Continue Reading →

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Gubernatorial candidates raise big money

MONTPELIER — All four declared candidates for governor posted big fundraising hauls Tuesday, the first reporting deadline since last July, in what is likely to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history. On the Democratic side, Dunne, a former senator from Windsor County, reported raising $452,436 and spending $134,668 during the eight-month reporting period. That brings his total contributions for the campaign to $567,469, and his total spending to $136,314. Dunne now has more than $430,000 in cash-on-hand — the most of any gubernatorial candidate — for the remainder of the primary season and into the general election if he wins the nomination. Sue Minter, the former secretary of the Agency of Transportation Secretary and Dunne’s primary opponent, reported raising $487,557 and spending $159,044, leaving her with about $328,500 cash on hand. Continue Reading →

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Dunne gives back corporate cash, calls on other candidates to follow

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne, right, speaks at a news conference Thursday. Dunne said he is returning $16,000 in corporate contributions and is asking other gubernatorial candidates to reject contributions from corporations. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne is denouncing corporate campaign contributions and returning $16,000 in contributions to his campaign. Dunne, in a State House news conference that also featured Peter Galbraith, a former Windham County Democratic senator who is publicly mulling his own gubernatorial bid, called on other candidates to follow his lead and on the Legislature to ban direct contributions from corporations. Dunne said his position is based on the “longstanding belief among most Vermonters that corporations are not in fact people,” referring to the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court ruling that likened corporations to individuals. “What many Vermonters don’t know is that here in the state of Vermont, unlike federal candidates, we allow for direct corporate contributions,” Dunne said. “At the outset of this campaign, my thought was that we were going to simple abide by the rules that were in place but as we thought about it more and more, and frankly, inspired by Bernie Sanders and his ability to compete with a people-powered campaign, we made the decision as a campaign to walk the walk. Continue Reading →

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Scott promises to ditch Vermont Health Connect as governor

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott

MONTPELIER — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott reiterated his call to abandon Vermont Health Connect in a web video released Thursday by his gubernatorial campaign. Scott is facing off in a primary with former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman, who is also calling for shutting down the state’s online health insurance marketplace. In an email sent to supporters Thursday morning, Scott’s campaign said he has been calling for “real” solutions for “more than two years” to fix the exchange, which has faced technological shortcomings since it launched in October 2013. “Elect Phil Scott and Vermont will transition to a better, less costly model that provides Vermonters more affordable health insurance choices,” the campaign wrote in the email. Vermont Health Connect launched without some major functions that were expected, including the ability for consumers to make changes to personal information online, such as their address or marital status. Continue Reading →

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EMILY’s List officially backs Minter


MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, an expected move that had been hinted at in recent weeks. Minter, the former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, and the group announced the endorsement Monday morning with a pair of press releases. “Sue Minter has the leadership experience and progressive values to move Vermont forward,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement. “Throughout her career as a public servant, Sue has brought people together to get the toughest jobs done. In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, Sue worked with communities and businesses to rebuild the state’s economy.”

EMILY’s List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women at the local, state and federal level. Continue Reading →

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VPR Poll: Phil Scott is in the driver’s seat


MONTPELIER — A new Castleton Polling Institute poll commissioned by Vermont Public Radio has provided disheartening numbers for the two Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race, while Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is soaring. The Vermont primary to select major party gubernatorial candidates will not be held until Aug. 9, but the poll results released Monday show that the two declared Democratic candidates — former Agency of Transportation Secretary Sue Minter and Matt Dunne, a former Windsor county state senator — are at a significant disadvantage in the early going in their quest to succeed Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Among the 895 Vermonters polled, Minter was selected by just 11 percent as their preferred Democratic candidate. Dunne, meanwhile, was the choice of 19 percent. Continue Reading →

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