NEK Voters Look For Information

10/25/10 7:50AM By Charlotte Albright
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(Host) There's been plenty of talk by the candidates about the issues that they think are important.

But voters have ideas about the problems confronting Vermont - and ways to resolve them.

So we've headed out around the state to hear their voices.

Today, we head to the Northeast Kingdom, where VPR's Charlotte Albright started the day at a popular breakfast diner.

(Albright) You can always get the breakfast menu at the Miss Lyndonville diner, and lately, if you eavesdrop a little, you often get a side dish of commentary about the race for governor.

(Tucker) "My name is David Tucker from SuttonVermont. And I think, enough with the negative ads. I want to hear what people are for rather than what they're against. And I guess one of the things I haven't heard any of the candidates talk about is the real dismal failure of the ‘Challenges for Change,' and really the collapse in state government and what either candidate wants to do to rebuild capacity to provide services to the most needy folks in the state.

(Albright) Tucker himself tries to help low income people through the Central Vermont Community Action Council.  And even though he says he is disappointed in the Douglas administration's budget reductions-dubbed "Challenges for Change" - Tucker says he's trying to stay upbeat about the prospect for change, after November second. But he's also worried that candidates are hitting hot button issues-like wind power and Vermont Yankee-without offering a more comprehensive  blueprint for the future.

(Tucker) "We really don't have a state energy policy or state energy reduction goals. It's sort of piece by piece by piece. So there's no coherence and nothing seems to make sense because nothing's tied together, it seems to me."

(Albright) A few tables away, Jan Oliver from Wheelock is ordering an omelette and thinking about the most important issues in this campaign:

(Oliver) "I think, obviously, how to pay for school-education-and the ownership that people have to taxes-that we're such a property-based tax system is really concerning. And employment issues."

(Albright)  Oliver, a nurse, says she hasn't decided yet which gubernatorial candidate to vote for. She knows Democrat Peter Shumlin supports a single payer health care system. But she says there are pros and cons to every kind of reform, so she'll be casting her vote on a range of issues. She wishes that the media were paying equal attention to more local races.

(Oliver) "So I really feel like I have a very short time to become very informed."

(Albright) "How will you do that?"

(Oliver) "I think I'm gonna have to go to their Websites to see what their stands are."

(Albright) Farther north in Lyndonville, a small forest of campaign signs sprouts in front of Route Five Antiques. 

With an old- time radio blaring in the corner, regular customers often weigh in noisily on local, state, and national politics. The shop is pretty empty today, though, and owner Wayne Comeau complains that some people who sound off in this place don't actually know what they're talking about.

(Comeau) "But there's no moderation. It's like-the only thing that's gonna mess up the whole situation is like the people that vote. If you don't know this you should just stay home. I don't have to agree with them but you should at least study the issues and at least know why you're voting a certain way for a certain person."

(Albright) Comeau says he generally votes Republican, because the Democrats, he says, are big spenders.

(Comeau) "I mean that's the big idea that the other side's got right now, whether it's in Montpelier or Washington, they figure, ‘Well we'll just tax anyone who's making more than this much money.' Well, that sounds good, in theory, but you know what? Those people that are paying them big taxes are creating a lot of jobs. And if you tax them so they aren't gonna make any profit they're gonna leave."

(Albright) Comeau sees the Tea Party as a wake-up call  that will drive Vermonters farther to the right on the political spectrum-a spot where he feels almost as comfortable as he looks behind a glass counter holding an array of trinkets from yesteryear.

For VPR News, I'm Charlotte Albright, in Lyndonville.

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