Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Phil Scott's Lt. Governor Candidacy Speech

The following is the prepared speech given by Washington County Senator and three-time Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl track champion Phil Scott on Monday, December 1 at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center, announcing his candidacy for the seat of Vermont Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 election:

“I’m Phil Scott - native Vermonter, graduate of Spaulding High School and the University of Vermont, fisherman and snowmobiler, mechanic and laborer, truck driver and stock car driver, both a cyclist and a biker, father and business owner, State Senator, proud Republican, and as of today, candidate for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Vermont.

I am honored to stand before you today – surrounded by so many people who have supported and guided me through the years: colleagues in the construction industry, who appreciate the challenges of running and working a business in Vermont; competitors and fans from Thunder Road who share in the excitement and sense of community that fills the speedway in Barre every Thursday night from May to October; and the friends and family members, whose Yankee independence and compassion for others helped shape who I am today.

My Dad died when I was 11, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, how special he was, and what a profound impact he had on my life. He was a World War II D-Day Veteran, who lost both legs when the tank he was operating hit a landmine. He spent 2 years in Walter Reed hospital and was in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But that experience never stopped “Scotty,” as he was known to everyone. He met and married my Mom, who was a student at Johnson state college and a clerk at the Elmore General store, he worked full time for the state highway department, was an active Mason, Shriner, proud patriot and member of the VFW. And in the years before he died from those injuries, he took me and my brothers camping every chance he could. His fierce determination, his pride in community and country, and his dogged work ethic, drove him then as they drive me today.

I’m inspired by that independence and driven by a quiet but focused passion, seeking to inspire those who are willing and able to help others but don’t know how. I believe that government can and should help those in need take care of themselves and get back on their feet, and as a Senator I’ve supported our investment in critical human service programs that help Vermont’s neediest families. I initiated the Wheels for Warmth program 5 years ago with the help of many of you, and it’s a great example of how we can help others without waiting for the government to intervene, or without raising taxes to expand another government program. To date – volunteers and community members have raised almost $100,000 for emergency fuel assistance, at the same time recycling almost 10,000 tires and extending the life and use of another 6000 more. Recycling, conservation, and keeping a few more families warm during tough times – all this without a single grant or piece of legislation. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work to inspire more of these community-led efforts to improve our environment and assist our friends and neighbors.

We all know that small businesses in Vermont are facing unprecedented challenges. We don’t need to add to their burden by increasing taxes and regulations. As someone who has built a business in Vermont and had to make a payroll every week for the last 25 years, I know what small businesses need to thrive. They need access to capital, they need to be encouraged rather than discouraged when they want to innovate, and they need relief from one of the highest tax burden in the country. As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll be a champion for pro-job policies that focus on getting Vermonters back to work.

We can figure out a way to protect our agrarian way of life and preserve our strong environmental ethic with common sense solutions, rather than by adding to our ever complicated bureaucracy. I know this because I’ve helped forge tough compromises and find answers to complex issues all of my life and most recently in the Vermont Senate.

Government must live within its means, just as families and businesses across Vermont do every day. In business, if expenses are outpacing revenues, you have to cut costs – it’s that simple. I’m not saying it’s easy, but sometimes you can’t have everything you want – you have to figure out what’s most important and prioritize. As Lieutenant Governor, I will be a voice of fiscal common sense – always keeping in mind that the workers of Vermont pay the bills of state government.

We’ve gotten altogether too dependent – dependent on state services, dependent on foreign oil and dependent on federal assistance. We need to learn to take care of ourselves again by fixing what’s broken and rebuilding our economy and manufacturing capacity, with a focus on local energy generation, sustainable agriculture and forestry.

And, learning to take care of ourselves again starts in the home and in the classroom. I know first hand what a difference a quality education can make for a young Vermonter. As a graduate of Vermont schools, I was proud to also send my daughters to Vermont’s outstanding public schools. But the ever-increasing property tax burden is squeezing families and choking small businesses. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work hard to maintain the high quality education our kids deserve, while pushing for long-overdue reform to the way we pay for education. For many, education-funding is a third-rail in politics, but I won’t shy away from the tough issues – that’s just not the way I operate.

In addition to investing in human capital to create good jobs and ensure a quality education, we must invest in our infrastructure. As a contractor, and member of both the Transportation and Institutions Committees in the Senate, I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous importance of good roads, safe bridges, and buildings with solid foundations. But I also know that the infrastructure of the future will depend as much on wireless and broadband technology as it will on physical structures. If we want to have a strong and growing economy, we need to invest in both digital and tangible improvements. As Lieutenant Governor, I will be a strong voice to make sure we don’t overlook the maintenance and investment in our critical infrastructure.

I got into politics initially because I was ready to be part of the solution to the challenges we face as a state. And over the years, I’ve learned that politics and racing are a lot alike and I’d just as soon play both of them straight up and head on. This race for Lieutenant Governor is going to be a long one, but I’m the right Vermonter for the job. I’m ready to put in the hard work at the shop and in the pits. I’ve got the skills to negotiate the turns in the track, deal with obstacles as they arise, and utilize the patience I’ve been given to set the right pace. And I’m a true team player – ready to help drive both myself and Brian Dubie across the finish line.

As with any venture, one can’t do it alone. I’ll need your continued support in the coming months and I thank you for your support over the past 10 years. I’m ready and able to work hard every day to earn your vote for Lieutenant Governor! Thank you again for being here today.”

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