When picking a candidate, I generally employ the “who is the most liberal person with the best chance of winning” test. Like many of us, I have used some variation on that test since since the 1980s when I was an 18 year-old casting my first ballot in Burlington.
Deb Markowitz’s commitment to progressive policies and her ability to run for office successfully (and her proven ability to manage an elected office transparently and effectively) make her my choice for Governor. In a year when we are blessed with the opportunity to vote for several committed progressives, trusting a particular candidate to run a winning campaign and then govern effectively, carries even more weight.
The long version, below . . .
Deb Markowitz has committed to a progressive agenda and is running a winning campaign. These are a few of the reasons I’m voting for her:
GOVERNING ABILITY & PRIORITIES —
On core issues critical to helping solidify the middle class and protecting the deteriorating condition of people who work for a living, the Democratic primary field demonstrates commitment to moving Vermont progressively forward. After eight years of conservative social drift and Republican fiscal squander of our economic opportunities, my confidence is in a Markowitz administration to effectively implement progressive policies needed for a stable, healthy, prosperous and growing middle class.
I appreciated the manner our candidates answered GMD’s open and specific questions. Deb’s response to the following statement about governmental responsibility and the role it plays in helping us shape our political and social culture was particularly reassuring: “Over the past two centuries, politicians ranging from Winston Churchill to John F. Kennedy have repeated or closely paraphrased the following:”
The true test of society is how well it treats its prisoners and old people.
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons and the test of a society’s quality and durability is measured by the respect and care given its elderly citizens.
Deb Markowitz responded, in part:
I have served on the board of the Central Vermont Community Action Agency for over ten years, and have seen first hand that Vermont’s social service agencies have been successful in reducing generational poverty.
As Governor, I will support innovative programs like tangible assets, workforce development and head start that help Vermonters rise out of poverty.
As governor, I will lead the effort to plan ahead so that we are prepared to serve aging Vermonters. According to the United States Census Bureau, [elderly Americans] will nearly double between 2010 and 2030 . . . We need to be ready. As Vermont’s population ages, the demand for accessible housing, quality medical services and first-rate long-term care will grow.
As Governor, I will support services that help seniors stay active, healthy and engaged.
I will support efforts that keep seniors in their homes. This is not just important for a good quality of life, but it is less costly than long-term care. . .
I believe that societies are judged, in part, by the way they treat their young – and their old, and by the way they respond to those individuals who violate the social compact. As governor, I will stand up to those who wish to dismantle our social safety net and I will lead efforts to rethink our criminal justice system.
Emphasis added. (psst – If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and read GMD’s Q&As to our candidates).
As many of our most revered liberal sages have correctly argued: “the best social policy is a good job.” Deb has committed to follow-through with the economic & social policies we must have to reverse the neglect and squandered opportunities of the past eight years. Most critically to 21st Century Vermont, she has accepted the responsibility to invest in resources to educate, to train and to transition our priorities away from the crony corporatism of the last eight years. We cannot take advantage of new and better economic opportunities – from niche agriculture to high tech jobs and renewable energy – if government does not cooperate with us. This will always include protecting the health or our elderly family members and fostering the care and education of our young children. Her emphasis on transitioning economic opportunities and the support of working families to take advantage of them is central to Deb Markowitz’s agenda.
The fact is, we all recognize dozens of issues where the candidates show they “get it.” Conversely, we can all point to areas where we are not sure our candidates are close enough to our view of what is necessary to preserve civil society. I am convinced Deb Markowitz will be the progressive Governor that Vermont needs if it is going to improve the quality of life we have lost and opportunities we are squandering under misguided conservative leadership. I also believe she be the person who continues to listen to and incorporate the views of liberal policy advocates who have been proven right again and again while being shut out of governance when they were most needed.
WINNING ELECTIONS —
In the critical ability to win department, Deb Markowitz stands head-and-shoulders above the other contestants in the Democratic primary.
Vote Getter: Deb Markowitz is a proven vote getter in a year when winning is crucial (when is it not?). She starts with terrific and positive name recognition. That is key coming out of the primary gate. She came into statewide office beating an incumbent Republican in an election year that offered Democrats no special advantages. She proved she was tenacious campaigner against an incumbent Republican, a year with many of the same dynamics as this year’s election, and she has only become better since then while establishing herself throughout the entire State, and among diverse voting blocks, as a respected State office holder.
Also, her ability to run a large chunk of the State – Corporations, Archives, Professional Regulation, Elections — under less-than-ideal circumstances, and frequently with no general funds (i.e. special funds such as user or license fees with no general taxpayer funded support) has been stellar. She knows how to run, execute and win and has proven it for over a decade now.
Smart Campaigning: The Markowitz campaign is field work & field worker intensive. This campaign understands that you win with the most votes, not the best commercials or consultants. She is an organized manager who has entrusted her campaign to field organizers who can shake voters out of the trees and get them to the polls.
Raising money: she has built a campaign that can do it and, most importantly, she has established a structural network that will keep it coming during the general election so that she can concentrate on campaigning rather than fund raising. This accomplishment will have enormous advantages against a Republican who will be well-financed and showered with GOP money merely by showing up. She will come out of the primary with the resources to run an effective campaign.
* * *
This year, there is something else . . .
Liberal, effective and proven. Usually, that’s enough. Most years, this is where I stop thinking and start voting. But this year there is something else.
Over the past decade, another equally important criterion has entered my equation. Respect for the rule-of-law is a non-negotiable issue for me. This year particularly, we need someone who will lead by example, AND we need someone who will restore a culture of respect for the rule of law in the many places where conservative neglect has abandoned it.
RULE OF LAW AND TRANSPARENCY:
We have seen an epidemic in government of failure these past few years. Much of it is directly attributable to secrecy or a lack of transparency. Secrecy is a flagrant act of disrespect by elected officials toward those of us who elect them. A non-transparent culture either leads to failure or is a coward’s tool to cover up an ongoing failure.
We have seen an epidemic of government officials who view their legal requirements and limits as “quaint.” They believe legal obligations are only for those on whom they decide to enforce that obligation. Frequently these officials exempt themselves from our shared legal responsibilities or offer short-cuts to privileged insiders. This despite the fact that our elected officials take an oath to uphold our Constitution and the laws that support it the first minute they begin their service.
Today, and from now on, I ask myself: “who will do the people’s business effectively AND who will do it while also respecting the rights of people who are ‘not in the room’ when policies are put into place?” Who can I trust to respect the rule-of-law and ensure their administration does the same? Who can I trust make transparency a priority?
I have heard Deb’s heartfelt commitment to this essential aspect of running an effective and trusted administration. She has earned my trust because I have witnessed her commitment to open government first-hand.
Here is but one small example of many. Most GMDers are familiar with the Douglas/Dubie administration’s attempt to circumvent Vermont sensitive wildlife protection statutes by allowing all-terrain vehicles riding and trail-cutting in publicly owned and legally designated fragile “natural areas.” After learning that the Douglas/Dubie crowd had ordered and secretly written illegal administrative rules with no public notice, the administration excused its abandonment of State law with a spurious claim that its bogus regulatory scheme will only allow ATVs on established crossings near highways or to connect already existing trails in non-sensitive protected areas “at ANR’s discretion.” This, however, is not what the proposed rules said and represented only a fraction of what the proposed rules allowed.
As was the case many times before this one example, the current administration’s tactic was to adopt a controversial, or incompetent or illegal policy in secret or to hide from public view aspects of failed governance. In the example of the the ATV regulations, the administration’s acts and policy were INTENTIONALLY kept secret from the legislature until after ANR submitted rules for final approval. Our conservative Republican administration instinctively believed that it was perfectly reasonable to hide a furtive project until the week AFTER the General Assembly adjourned for 2010. How convenient?
The cynically imposed ATV regulations are not the worst example of deceit and disrespect for our laws, or the abandonment of our core democratic values. Rather, I picked this particular shunning of open government because it is recent and ongoing as of July 2010.
The Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for staffing or overseeing over 20 statutorily distinct state agencies from an administrative rules perspective. This means it either directs, or is responsible for staffing, departments with their own rulemaking authority (i.e., legislatively created regulatory law-making power).
It is policy in the Secretary of State’s office to announce the intent to adopt new regulations even before the process officially starts and well before public notice is legally required. Deb Markowitz has encouraged this transparent culture and overseen this approach dozens of times during her tenure. It is policy to circulate drafts of proposed new laws, sometimes multiple drafts or just outlines, within regulated communities and affected individuals well before an agency or department even submits new draft rules for official public comment (for example, most State agencies that issue professional licenses — the Vermont Board of Veterinary Medicine or Architecture or the agency that regulates all pharmacies and pharmacists — must write the laws governing how Vermonters interact with these professions). In other words, affected citizens are invited into the process, are TOLD of the process, when the State Agency begins to consider new regulations, not AFTER the agency has finished them.
I could go on (and I have).
The major point is this: I’ve seen Deb Markowitz effectively manage a large chunk of state government in a completely non-partisan fashion. I also trust her to use some of the best political skills I have ever witnessed to reverse the illiberal drift of Vermont’s executive branch and protect the opportunities Vermont has to offer for all of us, not just the insiders who have fed at the trough for the past eight years. I trust her to win this November, and I trust her to follow-through starting next January.
(Please Note: Several of us here at GMD are making individual endorsements and this represents my personal endorsement. GMD is not endorsing any of the candidates in the Democratic primary for Governor)