Benning and Zuckerman differ on rental registries, single payer health care, gun storage policies

In the race to be Vermont’s next lieutenant governor, David Zuckerman and Joe Benning met earlier this month for another debate before voters make their choice on Nov. 8. The two candidates differed on topics ranging from housing and Act 250 to guns.

The first subject of the evening was how each candidate would work to fix housing shortages.

Benning, a Republican state senator representing Caledonia, went first in this final debate of the VTDigger debate series, and said he is against a new government registry on rental properties in the state.

“I would say there is a place for public/private partnership but I oppose that registry because I don’t believe it’s appropriate for the state of Vermont to take over people’s property,” he said. “And when you establish a registry there’s only one reason that you are doing that, you are looking to have as much as you can have on what is out there from a private perspective and then you obviously bring something kind of regulation to get that to where you want it to be.”

Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia

“It’s not the function of government to provide housing stock, that’s the function of private persons,” he added, noting most public housing does not currently have public funding going into it.

Benning also said he worked with the governor’s office to secure $90 million for housing. However, not enough new projects are currently ready to start. “Our current predicament is we don’t have shovel-ready projects ready to go,” he said.

Zuckerman, a Democrat, said that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is largely responsible for helping the state obtain the $90 million from the federal government that Benning had mentioned. He also suggested the government can have more roles in housing regulation.

“If it’s public dollars, I do think there is a reasonable expectation that there be limits on some of the potential price increases,” Zuckerman said. “If it’s affordable housing will it be perpetually affordable?”

He said he supports a statewide rental registry and he does not see it as government overreach.

Bruce Parker/TNR

David Zuckerman

“I have a rental property, it’s registered with the city of Burlington,” he said. “We are inspected every few years to make sure that it is safe for the occupants. It is not the city taking over my property or telling me what to do.”

Zuckerman added that having a registry would help the state make better plans for the future in regard to new developments.

Village centers vs. sprawl development

Each candidate was asked whether they favor policies that encourage sprawling development or village centers. Zuckerman said that developing village centers will spur the local economy.

“The state could both support infrastructure investments, sewer, and water lines to help encourage development in those town and village centers,” he said. “That would reduce sprawl, that would rebuild our small, rural communities, potentially increasing the number of people living in areas that have the country store be able to thrive, or a hardware store or a small mechanic shop.”

According to Zuckerman, Act 250, the state’s land use law that many critics believe is too burdensome, is the reason Vermont has maintained its rural character over the years.

Benning agreed that Act 250 has served a role in maintaining Vermont’s character. However, he said that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for reform.

“There have been impediments placed in front of developers who have become very frustrated as a result and have been begging us to make simple changes that might enable them to better serve Vermonters,” he said.

“One is at the front end — how does a developer know and understand whether or not a given project will meet the Act 250 criteria,” he said. ” … The other is at the back end and, frankly, the people that I have talked to have found this to be the worst part of it. When an Act 250 permit is granted and then appealed, the appellate process can last for many months if not years … and the expense to developers is extremely high.”

Health care, guns, and more

On health care, Zuckerman is open to the idea of looking into a single-payer model as had been previously considered in the past. In contrast, Benning suggested a one-payer model for a single state could be too costly.

When debating proposals to have state requirements for keeping guns locked away, Benning said such policies put many thousands of Vermonters at risk during a crisis — and police are often up to a half hour away when danger strikes. Zuckerman proposed state funding for professional-grade gun lockers; he’s also for increased waiting periods for purchases through background checks.

Each candidate weighed in on the Randolph High School controversy, where a transgender student identifying as female was using the girls’ locker room. Both candidates agreed that the students involved are not getting enough say in the public debate, and each pledged to continue to engage young people on all different matters.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain, and Bruce Parker/TNR
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19 thoughts on “Benning and Zuckerman differ on rental registries, single payer health care, gun storage policies

  1. We are going to have to pick up our pen and do the right thing in election.

    Zuckerman is honest about his intentions… I could never support him because he does not respect our God given rights or ourconstitutional fights.

    Benning is full of hot air and lies.
    He claims to be a Phil Scott republican…How so? Phil and Benning vote for and completely support the Biden agenda…which by the way… includes a gun grab across America. Scott came out totally in favor of this and Benning remained silent.

    Benning is trying to retain a voter base from gun owners while he sells us out behind our backs.

    Benning is also in favor of the slaughter of The unborn and mutilation of our children while stripping parental rights.

    Benning has also voted for Prop 5 twice and haa stated he will be voting for Article 22.

    Benning denies voter fraud and calls republican patriots INSURRECTIONISTS AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND RACISTS.

    Benning has contributed to patriots in America being called DOMESTIC TERRORISTS by his leader Joe Biden and the media and the rest of the Anti Americans that want to destroy the Republican Party.

    Are you going to participate in your own destruction?

    We have a choice….It is time to stop being forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

    Please send a strong message that we are done being manipulated and will elect a true conservative republican to the office of Lt. Governor.

    We have to begin the fight to preserve this beautiful state instead of relinquishing Vermont to those hell bent on lining their pockets with taxpayers money and holding power over us like we have witnessed for the past few years.


    Please write in GREGORY THAYER

    Please visit

    Everyone should spread the word among friends and family, in the community, and on social media.

    Ballot MUST be filled out EXACTLY:

    “Gregory M. Thayer of Rutland”

    • I would consider writing in Mr. Thayer – if he (or you, Mr. Ley) would answer my longstanding question to you both.

      Did Gregory Thayer breach the barricades at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6? Did he trespass?

      This question is not an indictment of those who peacefully attended the Jan 6 protest rally. I simply want Mr. Thayer to answer my question.

    • Post Script: I spent more than two hours interviewing Joe Benning, face to face. But I’m not going to share what I learned until Mr. Thayer answers this question.

      • I too have had conversations with Mr. Benning who has lies without hesitation.

        He believes in the slaughter of The unborn and mutilation of our children.

        He has voted for this twice and will vote for Article 22.

        If you are worried about crossing barriers …. Benning has no problem tocrossing the barrier to murdering babies..

        Not a hard decision to make to denounce Benning and his barbaric support of the slaughter of the unborn.

        The is one hell of a difference between exercising constitutional rights and slaughtering The unborn.

        Joe Benning is NOT GOD…but at some point we allwill answer to our Savior for our choices.

        If you don’t agree with the slaughter of The unborn you have a choice…

        Put your black oval on your ballot after writing in his name..

        It’s time for you to stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves

        Please visit

        Everyone should spread the word among friends and family, in the community, and on social media.

        Ballot MUST be filled out EXACTLY:

        “Gregory M. Thayer of Rutland”

      • Jay,

        This is the response I received after reaching out to Gregory Thayer….I hope this clears up any misinformation that has been expressed.

        Hello sir,

        I have answered and talked about my experience on J6 many time.

        Absolutely not, I did not trespass the People’s House in DC.

        First off, the US Capitol was opened on that day. No one breached any part. More Pelosi lies and drama!

        I was on the lawn, I heard Capitol Hill police tell ppl that the doors around back are open. And I watched and prayed over a man dying. As EMS workers attended to him then wheeled him out, I walked behind them heading back to Union Station by 2:45/2:50pm to get food before boarding our bus for a 3:30pm departure.

          • I’ve not met with nor spoken to Greg Thayer. The only correspondence I’ve received from Mr. Thayer has been via his apparent spokesperson, Richard Ley. See above. I have read as much as I can on Mr. Thayer’s personal/political positions.

            Joe Benning and I have met. And I’ve read as much as I can on his personal/political positions as well. Mr. Benning was gracious enough to invite me to meet with him recently, for coffee and conversation. We spoke for more than two hours.

            What I know of both men, personally, is limited.

            I did have the advantage of looking Mr. Benning in the eye when we spoke. My judgment of him, for what it is, is both factual and intuitive. Joe Benning is a consummate politician … an attorney. He plays his cards close to the vest. And, despite what Mr. Benning says, I believe he has higher political aspirations.

            Greg Thayer seems much less the politician… serving on the local Rutland City Council, Zoning Board, and Planning Commission notwithstanding. Mr. Thayer is an accountant. And, as with the financial statements he manages, his habit must be to abide by Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. In other words, Mr. Thayer tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, which, politically speaking, has both merit and failings.

            My decision to vote for one of these gentlemen (David Zuckerman being a definitive nonstarter) is based on two significant circumstances in our current time. One, is how they treat one another. The second, is their current position on abortion.

            In these instances, I prefer Greg Thayer’s perspective. Not because I entirely agree with him. I don’t. But because I’m more confident in my understanding of his position. Thayer’s view on abortion, while being unwilling to compromise, is morally unimpeachable. And his characterization of political opponents, while becoming reflexively more ad hominem, is still more reserved than is Benning.

            Joe Benning’s positions, as published and as expressed to me personally, have been incongruous. Benning’s opposition to abortion bills, H.57 and S.25, and his support for Article 22, makes no sense. And his vitriolic characterization of Vermont’s Jan 6 Trump supporters is beyond the pale by any measure. For example, in our conversation, I asked Mr. Benning if he had any evidence that any of the Vermonters ‘on the bus’ did anything but peacefully protest. He had no evidence. I asked Mr. Benning to give me one example of a specific Trump executive policy with which he disagreed. He had none.

            Yes, both Benning and Thayer support our second amendment. Both candidates support free enterprise. But Joe Benning’s support for limited government all too often (not always) contradicts his actions. And to be fair, while Greg Thayer has yet to have the opportunity to show his stripes in this regard, I’ve seen little reason to date to believe Mr. Thayer will become a political opportunist too? But, admittedly, only time will tell.

            Lastly, is a write-in vote for Greg Thayer a wasted vote?

            If winning the election is your only goal, a Thayer write-in is, likely, a joust with a windmill. A consummate politician would compromise. And make no mistake, having Joe Benning as Vermont’s Lt. Governor is, at the very least, a better outcome than having David Zuckerman in that office. Nonetheless, I intend to fall on my sword of principle and write-in Greg Thayer for Lt. Governor. At least I’ll be able to sleep at night and not look down at my feet when I stand at the mirror.

  2. Most of us who keep firearms in the home for protection regard them not as a weapon but as a shield. No decent politician who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution would want citizens to have to lock up their shields.

  3. You mean I have to lock up the three loaded guns I have in three strategic locations of my home? Maybe I should lock away my fire extinguishers also because that’s what I consider those weapons to be.

  4. What arm of the government is Zuckerman going to send to peoples homes to make sure the guns are safely secured? Seems like that would require a warrant or is the 4th amendment not of concern to these nannies? The police are always minutes away when seconds count. A 30 minute wait after calling the police in some areas of the state is very optimistic. We need less government, not more. So far I haven’t heard of the garbage police to see if you put egg shells in the trash.

    • “Zuckerman proposed state funding for professional-grade gun lockers; he’s also for increased waiting periods for purchases through background checks.”

      All of which are un Constitutional. and post Bruen decision, fact is every infringement signed into law by Benedict Scott in 2018 will be found to be un Constitutional as they were the day signed and will be coming to a end.

      They were also a violation of article 16 no matter what the self esteemed VTSC justices found,not only violating article 16 and the second amendment.
      If Leftist’s of either party haven’t caught on if a gun control theory didn’t exist in 1791 it’s un Constitutional PERIOD,the end of gun control as we have come to know it.

      So do we vote for a Marxist or a Marxist in sheep’s clothing.

      • Mr. McCandles: Where, in this article, do you see something indicating that Benning is a Marxist in sheep’s clothing?

        • Perhaps it was the word RINO as RINO’s are not Constitutional conservatives. To understand RINO’s you must understand the Communist party goal # 15,# 15 capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
          RINO’s are Marxist plants within the Republican Party and just enough of them will always “vote their conscience” every time they need to scuttle Constitutional legislation or subvert the United States

  5. Private property that is leased allows a tenant to become the de facto owner when an eviction is instigated, regardless of how destructive the tenant has been and how many of the lease requirements he/she has violated.
    The tenant can prevent the legal owner from entering onto the property without the tenant’s permission. This is absolute. The tenant can sue for any reasons regardless of extensive documentation of lease violations. If the owner does go onto the property with out permission, the tenant can have him arrested. I had this experience due to a vicious tenants criminal abuse of the privileges granted to him under state rental law. The tenant can remain on the premises rent free for as long as the tenant’s suit is in court.
    The eviction process is severely corrupt from faulty ideals and destructive policy and must be changed. I adamantly advise any and all potential landlords to NEVER lease out your property in VT. AirB&B is an excellent antidote to crooked tenants who have been organized and vicious for years and who due to to their selfish criminal behavior have ruined the rental industry in VT.
    Beware the “good” intentions of VT legislators who claim that tenants need protection from landlords. Perhaps it can be done, but not by the current eviction process and not currently in VT.

  6. Both candidates appear to believe that government is the answer to all problems, benning the lesser of two ardent liberal politicians. In the three subjects outlined above, government ‘solutions’ continue to exacerbate the problem.
    We need to remember- Government is the problem not the solution

    • Mr. Bammo: I didn’t see anything in this report demonstrating that Benning believes government is the answer to all problems. Can you ellaborate?

      • Mr Eshelman, save for the reference to continuing Act 250 with ‘room for reform’ there is nothing stated in this article to validate my statement. A look at Benning’s voting record in the senate shows mostly conservative views- however- Benning’s 2021 yes vote for Prop. 5, 2021’s H.926, 2020’s S.337 are not consistent with conservative views and add to increased state government control over his constituents.
        Benning certainly is a better choice than zuckerman, however his moderate views on some important issues are troubling. Art.22/Prop.5 seems a dangerous Amendment for Vermont. While it’s stated goal is ‘reproductive rights’, the ambiguity of the verbiage in the amendment certainly will give ‘the State’ as yet unknown and unlitigated control over ‘reproductive rights’ Whatever side of the fence one might be on with this issue, allowing a bureaucrat or 3 final say in the matter is folly for every Vermont resident.

  7. Zuckerman is a communist that needs to be deported to NY or CA. Benning is RINO. You can’t believe anything he says, which is mostly nonsense anyway.

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