by Nat Frothingham
As part of a conversation with Washington County Senator Bill Doyle, who is seeking reelection to the Vermont Senate — Doyle discussed two or three achievements that have given him personal pleasure.
He talked about his town meeting questionnaire which has given him the opportunity to find out what his constituents are feeling on a range of public issues. He also addressed his service on the executive committee of the Council of State Governments and the chance it has given him to meet with state legislators across New England.
Then he drew my attention to his book, “The Vermont Political Tradition: And Those Who Helped Make It” specifically to its foreword written by noted UVM Professor of History Sam Hand.
After reading the paragraph that follows, both Senator Doyle and I agreed that there was something “droll” about what Sam Hand had written.
“When Professor Doyle first told me he was to try writing a history of Vermont political parties for a newspaper, I was frankly skeptical. Newspaper editors are notoriously addicted to the simplest prose and intolerant of footnotes and enlightened digressions. I carried on in the vein for some time. For a college professor to venture into print unarmed with scholar paraphernalia requires either blind courage or foolhardiness. Bill, always the good politician, listened quietly, shook his head as if in agreement at all the right times, and then, I am glad to say, ignored my advice and took up his pen. Those who read the series agree it was an outstanding job.”
Senator Doyle is running for reelection to the Vermont Senate. Running alongside of him are two newcomers, Josh Fitzhugh of Berlin and Mike Doyle of Montpelier (no relation). The three Democratic candidates for the Vermont Senate are incumbents Ann Cummings and Anthony Pollina as well as Francis Brooks from Montpelier, a newcomer to the Vermont Senate race.
After this conversation, Senator Doyle answered the range of questions.
The Bridge: What compels you to run for re-election to the Vermont Senate?
Bill Doyle: I enjoy the work I do on the Senate Education and Finance Committees and feel I’m qualified for both.
The Bridge: What most clearly separates you from the other candidates in the race? How are you different?
Doyle: I am not clearly separated from any of the candidates. There are no major differences. We work out our differences as a delegation. We probably work as well as any other delegation.
The Bridge: What career or life experiences do you bring to your campaign for reelection to the Vermont Senate?
Doyle: I’ve had a career in teaching Government at Johnson State College for many years. I’ve served for four years on the Montpelier School Board. I found that to be valuable preparation for serving in the legislature. For many years I’ve been on the Executive Committee on the Council of State Governments. The issue we were dealing with was the Canadian-American border crossing, a major issue because it involves the economies of two countries. I supported the idea of picking a delegation from both countries to go to Washington, D.C. and meet with Senator Leahy and with the New Hampshire U.S. Senator and the chair of the appropriate committee from New Hampshire. That did happen. For that initiative I received a 10-state regional award from the Council of State Governments.
The Bridge: Of all that’s facing the state, what are the major issues?
Doyle: They are mostly economic issues. It’s been valuable for me to meet with other state legislators and bring some of their best ideas back to Vermont.
One that is so important is the heroin issue. there are a lot of issues out there but the heroin issue has been identified by recent governors as critically important. Most governors identify a number of issues but the heroin issue is a commanding issue of our time in Vermont and other states. In one week some 200 to 300 people in just four states were reported for drug overdoses. That number it totally unacceptable. We need greater penalties for heroin dealers.
The Bridge: What would you do as state senator to deal with the economic problems in Vermont where some Vermonters clearly are struggling to make ends meet?
Doyle: What I would do in general and for the people I represent is to make Vermont more affordable. They can’t afford to live here. They love the state and it’s a terrible choice to have to leave the state they love.
The Bridge: Why are you a Republican? What is the principal difference in your mind between Republicans and Democrats?
Doyle: Both parties are important. But the Democrats generally support more government services.
The Bridge: How in your view can we create “wealth” in this state?
Doyle: I think the secret is job creation. In the last few days the state of New York has created a program to produce a large number of jobs. The focus of our Economic Development Committee is to create more jobs and some of the rules and regulations can be impediments. More jobs can be created if we reduce some of the rules and regulations.
The Bridge: Can you say who you support for President: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else?
Doyle: I’m not there yet. Of all the presidential elections I’ve been through I can’t remember when two candidates were less popular. I may have to end up voting for the least worst.