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Candidate Conversations: Charly Dickerson Runs For Governor

Gubernatorial candidate Charly Dickerson
Charly Dickerson, courtesy
Charly Dickerson is running for governor in Vermont, but says he hopes he will not be elected.

Charly Dickerson is a retired public administrator and a longtime resident of Montpelier, who is running as an independent candidate for governor.

He serves on the board of trustees for the Vermont Veterans' Home, which is a licensed state facility in Bennington that offers residential services and general healthcare for veterans, spouses and their families.

Though he is not a veteran himself, Dickerson is very concerned about veterans’ issues in Vermont.

Our guest is:

  • Charly Dickerson, Independent candidate for governor

Broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Charly Dickerson, and their interview below has been fact-checked, condensed and edited for clarity.

Charly Dickerson: I really don't want the job.

I'm sorry, did you just say you did not want the job?

I do not want the job. To quote Monty Brewster and a movie of Richard Pryor's, 35 years ago –

I remember it well.

'You would have to be an idiot to vote for me.'

More from VPR: A Guide To Voting In Vermont For The 2020 General Election

It does raise the question then: Why are you running if you if you don't feel people should vote for you?

I'm running for purely selfish reasons: I'm running for mom.

My 92-year-old mother has been confined, locked up in a nursing home for eight months, unable to have any visits at all from her family or friends, her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. And she's kind of depressed and despondent. And she's been telling me for years that I ought to run for governor.

And that's why you're doing it – for your mom.

I put my name on the ballot, sent a ballot to mom, and lo and behold, she perked up. First time in eight months, she had a smile on her face. Now she's on the West Coast. And because of her condition, she's unable to manipulate a telephone, so I haven't talked to her on the phone in five months.

And, you know, it's one of the perils, if you will, from the current pandemic. But when the Legislature this year decided to, I want to say, make a mockery of the election process by not requiring any signatures to get on the ballot, I said, 'OK, I'll do it.'

More from Brave Little State: Ask Bob: Your Last-Minute Pre-Election Questions

That was your window.

There was my window and I [thought it] would cheer mom up.

You mentioned COVID-19, and I realize that's why she can't have any visitors. She's obviously in a very high-risk group, given her age. Do you have thoughts on the way that should be handled? I mean, if you were elected governor, let's just say, in the unlikely event that you were elected, what would your approach to handling the COVID-19 crisis be?

Excuse me for laughing the joke is: in the unlikely event that I'm elected, my first official act would be to demand a recount. I can't remember the guy who ran for mayor in New York who made that statement famous.

"...In the unlikely event that I'm elected, my first official act would be to demand a recount." - Charly Dickerson, candidate for governor

But I don't know the answer to your question. That's been a on-again-off-again dilemma between the politicians and the nursing homes, medical community and the health department about exactly how to deal with residents of a nursing home and how to deal with their family members and the public. It is hard and I know that at the vet's home down in Bennington, we've implemented some technology to allow at least residents to communicate with their family through either Skype or Zoom or some element of technology.

More from Vermont Edition: Vermont Election Experts Answer Your Voting Questions

Well, I'm glad you mentioned the veterans' home, because you do serve on the Vermont Veterans' Home Board of Trustees. And I'd at least like to know, and I'm sure you have thoughts on this, why is that important to you? And what could Vermont do that would make it a better state for veterans?

It's important to me because, partly, when I worked, part of my job was interacting and dealing with the vets' home, both when I worked in human resources and also when I was in human services. And so, after I quit working for the state, I already had been involved with the vets' home for at least 30 years. So I thought it would be valuable to sit on the board.

What did you learn during that time about how veterans are treated in the state?

I have learned that it's a dwindling population. The number of veterans in Vermont is much smaller than it used to be for obvious reasons. So it's also difficult to get people who are not tuned in to veterans excited about the issue here. When you go into the State House these days, a very, very small percentage of legislators are veterans.

Well, Charlie, let me ask you this, because you've made it clear that you're running for very specific reasons, and even if you did somehow win, you would not actually take the job. I do wonder, though, if you have any views, opinions on those candidates who are running and, you know, you don't have to reveal who you're voting for, but do you have a candidate that you feel would be the right person for governor, other than yourself? And if you'd like to reveal who that is?

No, I wouldn't. There's only two names I even recognize: Scott and Zuckerman. But beyond that, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment. Whoever wins, wins, as long as it's not me.

More from VPR: A Cartoon Guide to Voting In Vermont’s General Election

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

A thin grey line.

VPR sought interviews with each of the independent candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. We were able to schedule interviews with Michael Devost (Independent, Governor), Charly Dickerson (Independent, Governor), Kevin Hoyt (Independent, Governor), Emily Peyton (Truth Matters, Governor) and Ralph Corbo (Banish The F35s, Lieutenant Governor). VPR was unable to coordinate interviews with Wayne Billado III (Independent, Governor & Lieutenant Governor) and Erynn Hazlett Whitney (Independent, Governor). Find our full coverage here.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
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