Newly minted gubernatorial candidate talks politics


Ian Major

Sue Minter and Bill Doyle

Newly-announced Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, Sue Minter visited Johnson State College on Sep. 28 to discuss many topics including the future of higher education in Vermont.

Minter was at JSC visiting Professor and State Senator Bill Doyle’s Vermont Politics class. She was a part of Doyle’s Vermont Politics Speaker Series being held this fall at the college.

Before Minter’s running for governor, she was the secretary for the Vermont State Transportation Agency until her resignation in September.

Minter has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and a master’s degree in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Minter gave a quick overview of what her focuses are for the state. She mentioned one of the big pushes for her to run for governor is the belief that everybody can play a role in making a difference.
She has seen what happens when people in the state come together. “Tropical Storm Irene was catastrophic, and people really came forward for each other,” said Minter. She helped with the leadership that came with building 700 homes mainly through volunteer workers. “Things that no one thought possible were accomplished during Irene’s aftermath,” said Minter. “This spirit makes me want to continue my public service.”

A lot of what drives Minter is being a mother of two children who went through public school. “I feel I understand a lot of the challenges young people feel,” said Minter. She wants to place focuses on things that make up Vermont’s infrastructure like transportation, energy, broadband, and water to help build the state’s future.

Minter wants to try to commit to making college affordable. “While we have one of the highest high school graduation rates, we have about the lowest rate of those going on to college,” said Minter.
She wants to work towards funding higher education at a higher rate despite the challenge of serious budgetary pressures. “I think that we need to look at how efficient we are in the services that we are providing, and we need to ask the question of could we be doing things to reduce costs and pressures,” she said.

She really wants to change the educational continuation rate. “When you start looking at income and inequality it often correlates directly with college or educational attainment,” said Minter.
She also thinks it would be important to try and help give entrepreneurs opportunities. “I think our global economy is changing really fast, we have to be very innovative in attracting entrepreneurs.” She also stressed the need for workforce training. “We have employers looking for workers, and we have people leaving because they are unaware of the job opportunities,” said Minter.

Minter says she is passionate about the economy of Vermont. “As we work towards growing the economy it’s important that we actually focus on working families,” said Minter. Vermont currently has a 15 percent poverty level.

Minter described herself as always being optimistic, and wanting to be the governor who will bring people together for a bright future.

Following Minter’s discussion of her focuses for the state, the class held a question and answer session with her. One topic brought up was the future of renewable energy. “I think we need to forge our resources where they will be appropriate and acceptable, along with a possible criteria where to best site these objects,” says Minter.

Minter’s thoughts on school consolidation would be to try to create a regional system. Instead of each school having their own budget there would be a region with a budget.

Regarding health care, she said a single payer system is too expensive for Vermont. She thinks that creating programs where doctors aren’t getting paid per visit, but are getting a salary is a way to drive down costs.

Her thoughts on economic growth focus on the future people that are going to be living here. She thinks it’s very important for Vermont to grow its downtown areas and village centers to create private investments, jobs, and possibly attract younger people to the state.

Legalization of marijuana was also discussed. Minter says the law would be expensive to pass. She wants an effective regulation and distribution system to be created before legalization is passed. Minter also wants to make fighting narcotics a priority through education and prevention. She thinks that it would be best to focus on catching and penalizing the distributors, and working on treating those who are addicted.

As a candidate for governor, Minter has considerable experience. For the past 20 years, she has worked in public, private and non-profit sectors as a professional planner at state, local, and international levels. She was elected four times to serve in Vermont’s Legislature representing the towns of Waterbury, Duxbury, Huntington and Buels Gore.
More recently, Minter was appointed by Governor Shumlin to be Vermont’s Irene Recovery Officer after the storm hit in 2011.

Minter ended up in Vermont due to her master’s degree from MIT. Following her time at MIT she was involved in a fellowship that paid for her to come to Vermont for a year. “I was newly married, we had our first daughter, and we decided that this was the best place for us to raise kids,” said Minter.
Minter’s last remarks for the class were to dream big. “This is a great country and state. Don’t settle for a good job, settle for something you love.”