By Thomas Durham, Staff Writer
On Sept. 30, Molly Gray, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, visited South Royalton on the last leg of an 8-part series of visits around the state. She stopped in South Royalton last because the community has special significance to her.
Gray is a VLS alumna and adjunct professor. Gray explained that VLS was an excellent primer for the rigors of the road she has traveled, which brought her back to the South Royalton town square.
“Running for office is like studying for the bar exam while training for the Olympics at the same time,” said Gray. She added that her education and training from VLS is excellent preparation for campaigning and for speaking at forums.
During the course of the forum, Gray fielded questions on a wide range of topics. She started with the need to improve the state’s ability to retain younger Vermonters.
Participants asked about affordable housing issues in the state. Gray raised the idea of coordinating with different municipalities, because affordable housing affects each community in different ways. Some areas of the state require weatherization and improvement of existing structures, said Gray. Other localities need newly constructed housing , but in a way that will not overly burden cities’ limited budgets. Gray believes the Lt. Gov.’s office will be able to help her address those needs.
Gray also spoke about the need to improve and modernize the state’s broadband infrastructure. She noted that without improvements that allow for greater access to connectivity it would be hard to keep Vermonters in the state for either work or education.
Participants next asked Gray how she plans to address mental health issues for Vermonters. Gray emphasized the needs for an open dialogue about mental health and to develop and promote resources to address this issue—which has only been compounded by COVID-19. The question then turned into a discussion about law enforcement and the importance of body cameras for officers.
The next discussion focused on the prevalence of drug abuse, with participants asking about Gray’s plan to focus on prevention and support. In her response, Gray emphasized that prisons are not what the state should turn to for addiction treatment, and they should not be expected to operate as though they were.
Gray mentioned that she would like to introduce a measure to reduce student loan debt in Vermont, because she understands what it is like to have student loan debt as part of pursuing higher education.
“We live…in an incredible state, that has so much to offer,” said Gray. “As Vermonters, we are resilient; we are so committed to our communities and to making things better, and it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to run for office.”