Chittenden Senate candidates weigh in on business reopening, police funding, mail-in voting and GWSA

Four candidates running for the six state Senate seats for Chittenden County spoke with True North Reports about their views on hot-button issues this election season, including the coronavirus shutdown, Black Lives Matter protests, mail-in balloting and the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Of the various candidates running for Vermont state Senate, True North was able to interview Democrat Steve May of Richmond, Democrat Louis Meyers of South Burlington, Democrat Kesha Ram of Burlington, and Republican Ericka Redic of Burlington.

In total, 13 Democrats and two Republicans are running for the county’s six Senate seats.

No incumbent senators responded to TNR’s request for participation. Those incumbents include Michael Sirotkin, Virginia Lyons, Phil Baruth and Chris Pearson, all Democrats (the latter two are also Progressives).

The questions posed to the candidates were as follows:

1. Was Vermont’s shutdown response to the coronavirus worth the loss of more than 80,000 jobs and many businesses, or do you think the response was an overreaction?

2. Do you think Vermont should defund state and local police forces following the death of George Floyd?

3. In light of the current economic and COVID-19 crisis in the state, should lawmakers be pursuing climate change legislation such as the Global Warming Solutions Act?

4. Do you support switching to universal vote-by-mail elections in which the state sends absentee ballots to every registered voter on the statewide checklist?

Question 1: On the shutdown response to COVID-19

For question No.1 on whether the economic hardships suffered due to the shutdown to mitigate the coronavirus were worth it, both Kesha Ram and Steve May said they believe the shutdowns were worth it, whereas Meyers and Redic were more critical.

Kesha Ram for State Senate

Democrat Kesha Ram

Ram offered the following response:

“My grandfather is a 94-year-old World War II veteran with a Purple Heart, and he has not seen his beloved wife in over two months as she recovers in a rehab facility. Our elders deserve our best care and support to flatten the curve and beat this virus so they can live their remaining years in dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

“Individual and family decisions about health and safety informed by public health expertise are what led to the halt in our economy, and the government response to financially support Americans so they could stay home was the right one. Whether that financial support was ultimately felt by most Vermonters and small business owners with limited cash flow is what’s in question when it comes to the future of our economy, and I have fought alongside some of the hardest-hit families and business owners to ensure relief.

“We still have a long way to go, but I credit our early, cautious response with the relative success Vermont has had compared to other states in reducing the risk of further outbreak.”

May offered the following response:

“No, public health in fact was in fact endangered. The pandemic represents a once in a century event. The truth is that VT has been very fortunate that more Vermonters have not gotten ill. But, it is also true that government has a duty to help restart the economy. Only government was large enough in a moment of real peril to step in, and now in an economic moment of equal peril, our leaders have to step up.

“That does not mean that under a State of Emergency we did not ask a lot of individual Vermonters, we did. Sacrifices were made by the great majority of us, some of those sacrifices were pretty painful. As someone who chooses to stand for public office, and hopes to genuinely bring people together, I thank you for having endured this inconvenience.”

Meyers said the response to COVID may have been warranted initially, but now it’s time to reopen:

“I believe that the initial state Covid shutdown may have been appropriate, since we did not know what we were dealing with. But as the weeks went by and we saw the very low numbers outside Chittenden County, the governor has been too slow in reopening the less hard-hit areas of the state. And he has knee-capped our tourist industry.”

Ericka Redic

Republican Ericka Redic

Redic says each life lost was tragic, but the shutdown was too much:

“I understand people’s fear at the beginning, given the information we had, but I trust Vermonters to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Invariably some people will make bad decisions and there will be consequences – this is the risk we assume when living in a free society. As of today, 55 people have lost their lives to Covid19 in Vermont.

“Each of those lives is tragic and a great loss for their family and friends. It appears that the suffering caused by the shutdown has been demonstrably worse than the virus. Let us start with the children who are food insecure, that get two meals a day at school, who don’t have their parent’s help to do their schoolwork during this.”

“Next we see the Burlington Police Department has seen a large increase in calls for domestic violence and child abuse. Suicide hotline calls are through the roof and by May we had already had more shootings than all last year. The lockdowns were not worth it.”

Question 2: On defunding the police

On question No. 2 about defunding police, the candidates were split.

Steve May

Democrat Steve May

May offered this response:

“Police reform is an important concern, but I believe efforts to address use of legislation and the decision of labor between the State Police, County Sheriff’s Departments and Local Police is a more prudent use of resources. Also, I believe it is essential that police be allowed to engage in the life-savings activities of public safety, and if there are opportunities to off-load some ancillary duties so they can best focus on fighting crime I would support that change.”

Meyers said he opposes defunding:

“I do not believe in defunding the police departments. However, I do think it is appropriate to examine whether their union protections are preventing helpful changes.”

Ram said that there may be a need to redirect funds away from police departments:

“George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin, the other officers who kneeled on his spine and lungs, and the officers who stood by without intervening was tragic, horrific, unjust, and unnecessary. They should be held fully accountable for his murder.

“Many of us, including many police officers, believe state and local police forces were being asked to do too much before this heinous act took place. Across the country, including in Vermont, they are put in situations they are not trained to navigate or deescalate and they are taken away from the crimes they were trained to investigate.

“Our state and local governments should be engaged in long-term, community-led processes to ensure greater civilian oversight of police; to redirect funds to more appropriate responses to mental health crises, youth behavior, and public safety; and to right-size law enforcement budgets in comparison to other programs and initiatives in education, poverty, hunger alleviation, and mental health that keep people safe and healthy.”

Redic does not support defunding police:

“No. The best way to ensure we do not get social justice is to eliminate the mechanism that deters, stops and investigates criminal activity. All I can guess is that the people calling to defund the police have never been the victim or perpetrator of a crime. Otherwise they would understand the importance of the police in providing justice for victims. Vermont’s criminal justice system is already more merciful and gives more favor to the perpetrator than the victim – and that is wrong.”

Question 3: On big climate action during a bad economy

For question No. 3 about lawmakers taking on bills such as the Global Warming Solutions Act during a time of economic downturn, the answers were mixed.

May said that maybe the private sector can drive changes otherwise sought by legislation:

“I need to explore GWSA more to speak to its individual merits competently, however in times of economic crisis I believe the public sector can leverage private sector partners to amplify the reach of tax dollars so Vermont’s get the best bang for their buck.

“Lean times call for innovative and creative lawmaking, it means that solutions might look different than they might once had before, but it doesn’t mean that people of good faith and creativity can do important work in multiple areas and address multiple needs at one time.”

Dr. Louis Meyers

Democrat Louis Meyers

Meyers says he’s concerned about global warming but he’s not for overly aggressive legislation:

“Climate change is real and will affect Vermont, as it will everywhere else. However, we need to keep in mind that we are a relatively low-polluting state. We need to continue making steady progress, but balance that with not penalizing people who are struggling simply to get by. It is helpful when interventions actually save people money, such as weatherproofing homes.”

Redic said she is not for big bills like the GWSA:

“Absolutely not. The idea that they would continue considering any of the 1,240 bills while Vermonters are disallowed from public assembly and the ability to effectively advocate for themselves, is unconscionable. The GWSA is irresponsible and unconstitutional and will pave the way for devastating encroachment on personal property rights.

“Responses from my elected officials are rare, and when they do, they seem wholly uninterested in what their constituents have to say. For example, Senator Pearson justified his lack of consideration of my opinion by sighting an NPR poll of 603 random Vermonters. Outlandish.”

Ram says climate action should take priority, even during tough economic times:

“We have seen what happens when we act too late. Lives and economic security are lost. We need to shape the change rather than let the change shape us, and invest in green jobs and infrastructure to put Vermonters back to work.”

Question 4: On mail-in ballots

Regarding question No. 4 on mail-in ballots, the candidates offered various views.

May isn’t concerned about universal vote by mail:

“Reports of voter fraud in Vermont have been exceedingly rare in the last several years. Vermont has the most accessible early voting period in the country, with a 45 day no-excuse early voting period through town clerks across the state. In addition to ex-patriots and military personal oversees they have voted by mail for generations.

“Postal ballots are a logical extension of the no excuse period. Concerns over vote mail imply on some level that you are scared of the electorate- We haven’t scared off the unwashed masses in Vermont since Shays Rebellion. In the five western states where vote-by-mail exists Republicans beat Democrats with regularity. There is no reason to think that Republican candidates won’t record more votes than Democrats under a Vote by Mail system in Vermont in certain districts or with certain candidates once it is in place.”

Meyers offered the following response:

“I struggle with the issue of mail-in voting. Personally I prefer voting in person, and believe that it is an important community function, and one less prone to potential fraud. But there are situations where for physical reasons (or vacations) people cannot vote in person, and in those cases absentee ballots should certainly be available.”

Ram supports universal vote by mail:

“Yes, everyone should have a postage-paid opportunity to vote while still being able to elect to cast their ballot at their local town offices or the polls if they choose. Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and no one should have to take time from work or worry about filling the gas tank to exercise their fundamental rights.”

Redic is against universal vote by mail:

“No. During Town Meeting Day this year, I learned that Burlington believes at least 30% of our registered voters should not be on the list for one reason or another. We still receive mail for tenants that haven’t lived in our house for years. The margin of error, and opportunities for fraud are unacceptably high. We already have a mechanism for voting if people are unable or unwilling to come to the polls – it’s called an absentee ballot.

“Changing our method of voting is supposed to be done with a Constitutional Amendment. The Secretary of State does not have the authority to make this decision, and he is doing it against the will of the people. My hope is someone will challenge this in court. Our elected officials are openly and blatantly breaking their oath to protect the Constitution and our Rights therein. When ‘… any form of government becomes destructive to those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…’ They seem to have forgotten they derive their powers from the consent of the governed.”

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

Images courtesy of Flickr/Gage Skidmore, Kesha Ram for State Senate, Ericka Redic, Steve May and Dr. Louis Meyers
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10 thoughts on “Chittenden Senate candidates weigh in on business reopening, police funding, mail-in voting and GWSA

  1. A recent report on TNR, shows:

    1) Numerous ballots were mailed to people who no longer live at the address; ARE THEY DEAD? DID THEY MOVE?
    2) Numerous ballots were incorrectly filled in and returned to Town Clerks, which means they automatically GET REJECTED/INVALIDATED.
    3) The BURLINGTON voting list contains 30% of names who do not belong there; DEAD, MOVED, INADEQUATE DOCUMENTATION

    BIG-SMILE CONDOS thinks all of that is OK.
    Any Dem/Prog candidates who think this is OK should resign their citizenship, instead of running for office.
    This whole mail-in thing will come crashing down on CONDOS like a TSUNAMI; Indefensible, Good riddance.
    Remember EB-5. It can happen again.

    Guy Page has done a lot of work to get the opinions of Town Clerks regarding mail-in voting.
    Remember, many of them are good Dem/Progs
    If their party elite wants mail-in, they likely would not talk against it.

    There are about 480,000 registered voters in Vermont, and in the 2016 presidential election year, which had a high turnout, just 67% of registered voters cast ballots.
    That means the Condos, FULL SPEED AHEAD, mail-in scheme, would lead to about 160,000 unclaimed or unwanted ballots.
    Many of them would be just floating around, for any unscrupulous, self-serving actors, such as Dem/Prog-handmaiden VPIRG, to collect, fill out, and mail in.
    If that is not bad enough, just read this.

    Condos would not know if a fraud would occur, and neither would the Town Clerks.
    Condos can say, with a blank face, “fraud is very rare”, because only the most egregious fraud cases end up in court.

    In Vermont’s case, we are talking about SYSTEMIC fraud, which exists, because the system database is flawed from the get-go.
    Condos and Town Clerks know, as documented by Guy Page:

    1) The Vermont voter lists are riddled with names of people who left Vermont, or have died, according to interviewed Town Clerks
    2) There likely are great deficiencies regarding up-to-date photo IDs, copies of birth certificates, and copies of citizen papers
    3) Much of that documentation likely does not even exist in the Town Clerk files

    Condos, a Dem/Prog party fixture, acts as if he does not know, or as if it is not a problem.
    That my friends is a fraud, right there, because CONDOS DOES KNOW!

    Condos wants to INDISCRIMINATELY MASS mail ballots to EVERYONE on the voter lists, whether they want it or not, whether they want to vote to not, whether they belong on a list or not, whether they are properly documented or not.
    That my friends is a fraud, right there, because CONDOS IS A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP, EAGER TO PLEASE HIS HANDLERS

    Condos knows about these corrupted lists and the document deficiencies, as do the Town Clerks.
    He calls his mail-in scheme “universal”, as if calling it “universal” makes it A-OK; sort of like “universal” health care. It has a nice “ring” to it.
    All this is a highly deceptive/fraudulent charade. Few are asking the hard questions. Those who do, get drowned out.

    When will sane, REAL Vermonters finally sound off about this travesty and malfeasance?
    When will the RESPONSIBLE Vermont Media, defenders of the faith, wake up and show a conscience?


    Sending out postcards to all registered voters, as suggested by some Town Clerks and Sen. Benning, is a great idea.
    The cards would advise/remind voters to REQUEST a regular absentee ballot, in case they are afraid to vote in NOVEMBER, MORE THAN FIVE MONTHS, (JUNE, JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER), IN THE FUTURE!!!

    All Town Clerks already are highly familiar with the absentee ballot process. There would be: No learning curve; No excuses; No fuss; No muss.
    INDISCRIMINATE mail-in voting has been on the Dem/Prog agenda for years.
    Here comes along a golden opportunity to get it: THE OVERBLOWN VIRUS SCARE

    NOTE: TSA and all airlines require a photo ID before they check you in, and before they are allow on board.
    Voting is far more important than taking an airline trip.

    Requiring recent photo IDs, etc., is not voter suppression. It is called PRUDENCE.
    The PAPER TRAIL is not just the ballot, but also the copies of valid/up-to-date documents on file at Town Clerk’s offices, such as:

    1) A photo ID, and
    2) A copy of Citizen Papers (which likely has an old photograph), and
    3) A copy of a Birth Certificate.

    IF IN-PERSON VOTING, RECENT PHOTO ID, AND PROOF OF RESIDENCE (such as a property/school tax bill/driver’s license/Post Office address), MUST BE PRESENTED BEFORE VOTING

    Condos will mail blank ballots to all registered voters, including those in nursing homes.
    The old people likely will be visited by nurses to help fill out the ballots
    On this side are all the evil Trump people.
    On that side are the nice Dem/Progs who make sure our nursing home gets the subsidies we deserve.
    The nurses sort the ballots.
    As pre-arranged, a VPIRG person shows up to pick up the ballots.
    Any Trump ballots likely will be misplaced, the others are mailed to Town Clerks.
    By the time all this, and much more, comes to the surface, the “elections” will be over and done with.


    This section has information from this Seven-Days article.

    The Bill mandates utilities buy 20% of their electricity supply, about 1.2 BILLION kWh/y, from in-state RE sources which effectively means solar, even though solar:

    – Is, by far, the most expensive electricity in the portfolio of GMP. See Appendix.
    – Imposes the greatest threat to the stability of the grid, due to ever-larger DUCK-curves, as have happened in southern Germany and southern California
    – Would make the use of EVs and heat pumps prohibitively expensive.

    The Bill appears uncomplicated to pro-RE lay people, and some legislators eager to please Vermont solar businesses, but is far from it, according to energy systems analysts at VT-DPS.

    – Vermont had installed 364.24 MW ac, or 438.84 MW dc, at end 2019, per ISO-NE/VT-DPS, which had a legacy capital cost of about $2 billion.
    – In 2019, solar electricity generation was about 475,248 MWh, or 475.25/6000 = 7.9% of supply to utilities, or 475.25/5600 = 8.5% of consumption via wall sockets.
    – Vermont installed solar would need to increase to about 20/8.5 x 438.84 = 1033 MW dc, at end 2032, per House Bill. See Note.
    – The additional capital cost would be about (1032 – 438.84) x $3 million/MW = $1.781 billion, or $137 million/y for 13 years, excluding:

    1) Grid extension/augmentation to connect solar systems
    2) Increased connections to nearby grids to minimize disturbances due to solar
    3) Any storage to deal with midday DUCK-curves
    4) Any inverter replacements in about year 12 and O&M

    Historically, items 1, 2 and 3 have been charged to ratepayers, taxpayers, and added to government debt.
    If they had been charged to owners of solar systems, they would be a lot less eager to have solar.

    NOTE: Legislators, and pro RE-entities, may offer the usual “easy-talk/hand-waving” option of “we do this and that, by that date, and Vermonters will save lots of money, and save the climate”.
    However, the experts at VT-DPS have no choice, but to evaluate the A to Z picture of cost and physical implications of increased solar on:

    1) Electric rates, c/kWh
    2) Stability of the grid
    3) Expansion/reinforcement of the grid
    4) Substations on grids with solar systems needing to be arranged to receive and send power.

    If they did not, all hell may break loose, such as costs/kWh going through the roof, and the grid becoming unstable, especially on sunny days and variable-cloudy days, at some future date.….

    Wind/Solar Lulls

    Some Bill proponents likely do not realize, Vermont (and New England, and Germany and Denmark, etc.) often has wind/solar lulls (extended overcast periods, with rain or snow, and little or no wind) of up to 5 to 7 days, i.e., the combined wind/solar output that could have been expected, for that time of year, is, in fact, less than 15% of expectations. Sometimes, a second lull follows the first one a few days later.
    Where would the shortfall come from?
    Traditional generators in nearby states?

  3. As part of GWSA, the EAN, VEIC, and VELCO Goals of 1000 MW of Solar by 2025 are Self-Serving and Unrealistic

    Their goals appear to be extremely dubious with:

    1) The Federal EV tax credit having been cancelled
    2) The solar Investment Tax Credit expiring in 2022
    3) The multi-year recession and high unemployment due to the virus economy.
    4) ASHPs Marginally Effective for Reducing CO2 in Average Vermont Houses. See URL
    5) EVs Minimally Reducing CO2 Compared with Efficient Gasoline Vehicles. See URL
    6) The recent FERC PURPA update to ensure proper competition, i.e., no sweetheart deals.

    Major increases of taxes, fees and surcharges on ratepayers, taxpayers, and adding to government debt to pay for their self-serving, dubious claims, likely would not be a palatable option.


    The Vermont House passed the Global Warming “Solutions” Act bill, GWSA, and sent it to the Vermont Senate, which also passed it. The bill, if enacted, would convert the aspirational goals of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, into mandated goals, with penalties. GWSA has been called “must pass this Session”.

    Capital Costs to Implement the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan

    In 2015, Energy Action Network, EAN, an umbrella organization for RE businesses, etc., had estimated it would take at least $1.0 BILLION per year for 35 years to implement the CEP by 2050, not counting many $billions for financing costs and replacement costs of short-live systems (wind, solar, batteries, EVs, heat pumps) during these 35 years.

    GWSA to Subsidize Job Creation in RE Sectors

    Vermont has a very poor climate for traditional, private-enterprise job creation. Forbes, et al., rate Vermont near the bottom. There are too many onerous taxes, fees and surcharges, and rules and regulations, that have caused businesses to not grow in Vermont, to leave Vermont, or not even come to Vermont.

    Vermont’s population is stagnant. Ambitious, younger people leave, older, more-needy people stay. Well-paying, steady jobs, with decent benefits, are hard to come by in Vermont.

    GWSA would create an expensively subsidized, industrial development policy that would:

    1) Require major increases in the current levels of various subsidies to all sorts of RE businesses for decades.
    2) Produce expensive, mostly variable/intermittent, wind/solar electricity.
    3) Very expensively “create jobs” that would not exist without the subsidies.

    The GWSA “industrial development policy” would be an expensive substitute for traditional, private-enterprise job creation, which has proven so difficult in Vermont, largely because of historic, socialistic mindsets within the Legislature, which prefer to protect/enlarge/perpetuate vote-getting pet projects, instead of creating the proper conditions for a vibrant private sector that produces hi-tech products, employs highly-skilled, tax-paying workers, in steady jobs, with good benefits.

    GSWA Requires Major Annual Spending Increases

    Annual spending on RE would have to increase from the current $210 million/y (includes $60+ million for Efficiency Vermont) to at least $1.0 billion per year, to implement the CEP.

    If the RE subsidies were “freebie” federal subsidies, they would subsidize and grow RE businesses, and create jobs.
    However, federal subsidies increase and decrease, and come and go.

    If the subsidies were “state” subsidies, such as for 1) heat pumps, 2) electric vehicles, and 3) above-market, feed-in rates for solar, such as net-metering at 21.7 c/kWh and Standard Offer at 21.7 c/kWh, they would be extracted from Vermont ratepayers, taxpayers and tourists, which, as has been proven, would create jobs in the RE sectors, but would, as has been proven, eliminate jobs, or prevent jobs from being created, in almost all private-enterprise sectors.

    That would further worsen the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, and prolong the adverse employment conditions of the “Virus economy”.

    • Addition:

      Brief Summary of GWSA

      The Agency of Natural Resources, ANR, led by Peter Walke (who is a member of EAN), has to create the rules and regulations, and penalties for non-compliance, which would be subject for review by a “Council of Wise Men”, i.e., mostly appointed RE proponents.

      As part of GWSA, if the ANR measures would not sufficiently reduce Vermont’s carbon dioxide, CO2, as scheduled, any entity, such as the Conservation Law Foundation, would be allowed to sue the state government, with lawyer’s fees reimbursed, if the suit is upheld in Court.

      As part of GWSA, the legislature would play no role other than vote to provide the money, extracted from more and more impoverished, already-struggling, Virus-unemployed Vermonters, to implement it all.

      I foresee:

      1) A growing bureaucracy embroiled in one litigious brouhaha after another
      2) Vermonters becoming more and more oppressed and impoverished in the pursuit of impossible climate goals
      3) Vermont becoming less and less attractive as a place to do business, to visit, and to live.
      4) GWSA inflicting decades of torture of Vermonters to achieve nothing regarding the climate, other than “feel-good/virtue-signaling”.

  5. Loss of 80,000 jobs worth abiding by behavior designed the prevent the spread of Covid-19??? That’s one of the dumbest question yet. If your dead, you CAN’T WORK!!! Here’s another dumb question. Should the police departments be defunded? In cases of murder, rioting, looting, and mass destruction, I am at a loss to fathom how municipalities will be able to deal with these issues without the men and women in blue who literally put their lives on the line daily to protect and to serve. Come on folks, GET REAL!!!!

    • Continuing the Chairman’s defense with the same tired, false narrative. This alone is evidence that you’ve been part of the media at one time or another. But you’ll get no traction here. People are wise to the emotional play that has no real substance, unlike when you orchestrated Vermont media during the government shutdown of 1995 & 1996. Now people know that you lie and are part of the establishment.

  6. Obviously Mr. May isn’t aware that ‘generations of military members’ TRIED to vote absentee for years. For the ten years I was on Navy ships, I never received an absentee ballot on time from the State of Vermont. Twice it arrived two or more months after the election.
    Letters of complaint never received a reply.

    Mr. May should correct his statement – he has no idea how many deployed military personnel never receive an absentee ballot.

    • The same thing happened to me in 1972. Vermont has never cared one iota about its active duty personnel or veterans.

      Thank you for your service.

  7. Republican Ericka Redic of Burlington, good luck we need to break
    the progressive strangle hold Chittenden County !!

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