David Zuckerman on winning the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor
David Zuckerman is an organic farmer from Hinesburg who held the position of lieutenant governor for four years and served in the state Legislature for almost 20 years before that.
He defeated three other Democratic candidates in Tuesday's primary with nearly 44% of votes.
Vermont Public's Mikaela Lefrak spoke with David Zuckerman. Their interview is below and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Mikaela Lefrak: How did you celebrate your win last night?
David Zuckerman: We had a gathering in Burlington at a space called Democracy Creative. There were probably 75 folks there celebrating both my victory as well as a number of other Senate and House race wins. And, eventually, driving home, picking up a lot of lawn signs and trying to start to clean up.
Your opponent in the general election, Joe Benning, has talked about the differences between his relationship with Gov. Phil Scott, and yours. Will you be able to effectively work with Gov. Scott, if you’re both elected?
Absolutely. If the governor would be willing and interested in working on the kinds of issues that he and I agree on, I think we'll get a lot done. We both recognize a lot of folks are struggling economically, wages are not high enough. I would argue people can't pay their bills.
If the governor wants to be, as he was in the past, sort of last-minute — we saw that with the Legislature on many bills this year that he vetoed — then that's his decision, not so much mine. But I will certainly work with the governor in any way possible. And I'll work with senators of all parties as I had as lieutenant governor previously, to make sure the work of the Senate, which is the top job of the lieutenant governor, is done in a fair and open manner that the public respects.
"Working to establish committees that are going to target issues of economic stability for Vermonters is going to be number one."David Zuckerman, Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor
You’ve held the office of lieutenant governor before. If you're reelected in November, how would you approach your role as lieutenant governor differently?
Right now, I think a lot of Vermonters are wondering what legislation the House and Senate is really going to pass to improve people's lives.
I think wages are important. Housing is a huge issue. There's obviously been a huge investment in the last couple of years that will take effect over the next few years. But everyday Vermonters can't afford to buy or rent here in Vermont. That's a huge problem. So working to establish committees that are going to target issues of economic stability for Vermonters is going to be number one.
"A lot of Vermonters often feel disconnected from the Statehouse when the policies are being made. The work I've done for 25 years in public service is bringing more people into the process."David Zuckerman, Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor
Number two, is going to be working on climate issues and making sure we continue to work towards clean water, good soil, but also a climate solution for Vermonters that's economically viable, and preserves the opportunity for us to live, work and play in this state in the way that we have enjoyed in the past.
Third, I'm going to continue what I did as lieutenant governor, but do it in a stronger way with more time in really traveling the state as an ambassador for what's going on in the Statehouse. Because a lot of Vermonters often feel disconnected from the Statehouse when the policies are being made. The work I've done for 25 years in public service is bringing more people into the process.
Speaking of the Statehouse, your main opponent in the primary was former state Rep. Kitty Toll. You won about 44% of the votes, whereas she snagged about 39%. What are your reflections on the primary race and the fact that a lot of folks did vote for Kitty Toll?
I thought it was a really robust race — we had a very good race amongst the four of us. And it's important for me to reach out to those voters who did choose other candidates and see if we can work to coalesce. I think they will. I had a lot of supporters from the Legislature and others who generally liked me, but said they also supported Kitty. I think we'll pull those votes together.
It's important to recognize when you combine the kinds of votes we had in the Democratic primary compared to the Republican primary, I think that's going to set us up for a good strong base to win this election.
Lastly, Brenda Siegel is now the official Democratic nominee for governor. Do you plan to campaign with her?
I will certainly work with Brenda Siegel. She is an advocate for many important issues. That's part of the political process.
If she wins, I look forward to her being governor. And if Phil Scott wins, I look forward to working with him. That's, that's how these things work. It's not, you help one and then suddenly you can't do anything with the other.