JACKSONVILLE, Vt. — There hasn’t been a Republican state senator for Windham County since 1990, but a young candidate with a fresh outlook on pressing political matters hopes to change that on Nov. 6.
Tyler Colford, of Jacksonville, is challenging incumbent Democratic State Senators Becca Balint, of Brattleboro, and Jeanette White, of Putney, for one of two Senate seats open during the general election. He won the Republican nomination as a write-in with just 55 votes.
Colford said he’s running because he wants to offer real solutions to issues that need to be addressed instead of aimlessly investing money as the only solution, much like the incumbents he’s up against.
“When I watched a couple of the forums with the Democratic candidates, all of their solutions seemed to be just throwing more money at the problem to try and make them go away, and I didn’t think that was a proper solution,” Colford said.
Colford thinks his goal of winning is pretty attainable regardless if he was originally a write-in candidate. He said he needs anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 votes to win and has been taking the proper steps to make it a reality.
He’s been working hard to get his name out there by going door-to-door to share his ideas, writing weekly letters to editors in different news publications, staying active on social media, handing out pamphlets, contacting various groups like Gun Owners of Vermont to receive endorsements, and maintaining his own website.
“I bring a completely different voice to the table that aims to protect all individuals,” Colford said. “I am for tax-and-regulate marijuana, I’m pro-life, but I’m on both sides of the issues and I think I can really attract all sorts of individuals, even on the left.”
He said many of the pressing issues that need to be faced head-on can be resolved simply by the government taking a step back and allowing more individual liberty and protection of property rights.
The lack of small businesses emerging — and many even failing in Vermont — can be detrimental to the economy, and Colford believes private entities should be allowed to operate according to the free market without having to adhere to burdensome regulations just to get a foot in the door.
“I think if we really just decrease the amount of licensing, the amount of red tape, and decrease the cost of entry for small businesses to enter the market, that would really help out a lot,” Colford said.
He also said he completely opposes government mandated minimum wages, including the $15 minimum wage that has been heavily pushed by Vermont lawmakers in recent years.
In February 2018, the Vermont Senate approved a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2024. If the House passes the proposal and it’s signed into law, employers would be required to raise the minimum wage every year through 2024. The first increase would come by Jan. 1, 2019, from $10.50 to $11.50 per hour.
“All the minimum wage does is increase the amount of unemployed because it curves the incentive of the employer to actually hire more employees or to train new employees,” Colford said.
He added that most employers would rather just pay their current employees more because they are already skilled and trained in their field — and in some cases employers might even cut the positions entirely and replace workers with machines.
Colford said he supports a flat tax rate and, if elected, would propose something like a flat tax rate that is the same level as “what the lowest earner pays percentage wise.”
“Even though that looks bad to the small guy, more wealthy people are still paying more in taxes because they’re making more per percentage,” he said.
He said he believes the state can actually collect more tax revenue with a flat tax rate instead of raising taxes for the wealthiest people in the state, and it will create incentive for people to continue working in the state and want to work overtime as well.
“I hear it all the time where people don’t wanna work overtime because the government would tax more because they’ll be in a higher tax bracket,” Colford said.
Colford said he would also like to see the state veer away from single-payer health care because he sees it as a “government monopoly” of single-seller to single-payer.
Following an executive order signed by President Donald Trump allowing individuals to purchase insurance out-of-state, Colford said he would also like to see that apply for Vermonters as well.
“I’d like to get something passed through the legislature to allow Vermonters to purchase (insurance) outside of the state, as well as make it more of a versatile market for insurance companies to come into the state and operate outside of Vermont,” he said.
Colford said his stance on gun control is simply no gun control. In the case of school safety, he said he finds it counter-intuitive for schools to advertise that they’re “gun free zones” because it just opens the door for people with bad intentions to “wreak havoc.”
He said it doesn’t make sense to impose an “umbrella” of state regulation because all communities are different and should have the choice to decide what’s best for the safety of their kids and their community.
“What will work for one school or community I don’t think will work for another, and I think that each individual community will know what they need better than some legislators in the Capitol,” Colford said.
As mentioned before, Colford is for the tax and regulation of marijuana and thinks it currently being “quasi-legal” does more harm than good in the long run. He said when it’s taxed and regulated, multiple markets are able to emerge including third party entities.
“I believe that there should be third party entities doing that with food and over the counter supplements and drugs as well,” Colford said. “I think the government again is impeding that area where the free market could actually help a lot.”
All in all, Colford said he wants to increase the level of freedom that every individual has the right to as an American citizen.
“Every individual should have the right to protect their property — which is themselves and the effort and labor that they put into producing what they want — so and long as they don’t impede on others and their property,” he said.
Briana Bocelli is a freelance reporter for True North Reports.