Question #1: Why are you running for office, and what gives you the qualifications for the office you are seeking? Why should voters cast their vote for you?
From 1972 to 1983 I called Vermont home. Then my company chose to stop doing business in Vermont and, with a young family, I chose to leave with them. For the next thirty years I moved to Bangor, ME, Portland, ME, Albany, NY, Portland, OR, and Cincinnati, OH, where I retired from Delta Air Lines. My house was still in Oregon so I went back there for fifteen years.
Finally, back in Vermont four years ago, I’m happy as a clam. However, I’m also a bit sad with the changes that happened in my absence.
We bought a house that had been on the market for over two years, from a lady who was about to lose it because of her inability to come up with the tax money. As I looked around I found she was, by far, not the only one facing a similar situation. One only need look in the Chronicle each week to see the tax sales going on. People are losing their places for just a few hundred dollars.
Vermonters are over taxed, under supported, under employed, yet over worked, under paid, and over stressed. Although I believe our elected officials to be intelligent people, they continue to look the other way and to do business as usual.
It seems to me that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.
My platform revolves around finding ways that will allow Vermonters to continue to live, and thrive, in the state they love. We need to roll back taxes and freeze them for people on fixed incomes, such as those over sixty-five years of age or disabled.
We need to have a complete overhaul of the DMV inspections that have become just another way to add stress and, what I consider, another tax. No one should have to stress for six months of the year over how they will afford the repairs necessary to fulfill the ridiculous inspection regulations. My website will soon have a complete plan as to how we will keep vehicles safe, do away with inspections almost entirely, ensure residents have easy access to low cost repairs based on their ability to pay, and let adults begin the process of being adults once again.
Our education system needs a transfusion. When our schools lose students the answer seems to be that we need to pay more in taxes to keep the schools going. Whatever happened to the philosophy of let’s make it work? It seems to me that we go about fixing a problem by adding more problems. That won’t be my solution to the problems. Our households have to live within our budgets. So can our government, without cutting services that we all need.
The state needs money, however, we are harder on new business ventures than so many other areas of the country. New businesses tend to fail within the first five years yet we, as the all-powerful government officials behind the curtain, do nothing to encourage and assist them. We need to work a tax benefit that allows them to pay nothing in business taxes for the first two years and then graduate slowly to the full business tax base. The requirement to be met is that they must employ a certain number of employees to start, and increase to another number, yet to be determined.
And speaking of businesses, we need our own airline. Vermont is missing the boat by letting all of our qualified airports sit without airline service. The business plan I developed shows that, based on just one flight a day from Newport to JFK and back, supplemented by our own air freighters, would net the state Five Million Dollars the first year. Of course we would not have just one flight but many throughout the state. This would add jobs, open up the reason companies want to settle in an area, and, if we put most of the revenue into our school system, would drop our tax rates like a rock off of Camels Hump!
My website lists my many forays into business and life experiences. I’ve been in management with the airlines, helped start not-for-profit companies and served as CEO in those companies, have been on the board of directors of a very large church in Oregon and am active in community, presently through Make-A-Wish Vermont. My qualifications are head and shoulders above many who have chosen politics as their career.
Lifelong Vermonters are being forced from the state in droves. It’s time to make sure everyone can afford to remain in their homes, drive their cars, educate their kids, and know that their retirement years are protected from the onslaught of ever increasing taxes. As your State Senator I will represent you with honor and integrity.
Let’s protect the way of life we all love. Send me to Montpelier to make some real noise for you... Noise that will keep us all Vermonters.
Question #2: Budgeting for the State can be no easy task. What fiscal changes do you feel should be made to better accommodate the State's needs as well as taxpayers ability to meet those needs?
All I hear out of Montpelier is We need, We need, We need, yet they keep thinking raising our taxes is the only way to get. Year after year it is the same argument and they keep expecting different results. (Again, the definition of insanity.)
What we need is a new influx of money coming in, and not from current residents. We need to make this state much more business friendly, inviting good clean companies through incentives to invest in Vermont.
If a company agrees to move to Vermont they must also agree to hire and train Vermonters to their workforce. If they meet our numbers then they will get a tax break for a certain number of years. (For examples please visit RonHorton.info)
Creating a Vermont owned airline will offer out of state companies a reason to relocate. Companies need to have a convenient way to move their employees and goods back and forth. Without reliable transportation they will likely stay where they are no matter what tax breaks we offer them.
We need to bring to Montpelier forward thinking individuals who are not afraid to step out of the box or raise eyebrows of their fellow decision makers. If we keep going down this road well-travelled we will find ourselves in deeper and deeper ruts.
Politicians promise the moon when trying to get elected. What you will get from me is realistic goals and the backbone to go after them. This is my only promise. This is why I am asking for you to vote for Ron Horton, State Senate, Essex/Orleans Counties, on August 9th.
Question 3: School funding has increased greatly in recent years. The legislature created Act 46 to work to curtail school taxes by merging smaller districts into larger ones. Should the state take another look at Act 46, or should we see it play out and see how the current law goes?
Act 46, from all I’ve seen, was a last minute, get it done bill, hurried along so the legislature could go on recess. Yes, we should take a long hard look at this bill. It appears to be a case of the government telling the towns, and residents, what is best for their children.
School funding has been flawed for years, and officials have been re-elected year after year, yet they continue to neglect this problem. If Act 46 is the best they can come up with then it’s time to reshuffle the deck. This one has too many jokers.
Schools do take a lot of money to fund, but our kids are worth it. Increasing the suffering publics’ property taxes is not the answer. WWW.RonHorton.info lists some realistic answers.
We have numerous commercially qualified airports sitting unproductive, while the potential revenues a state owned airline can provide sit untapped. My ‘simple’ business plan shows how just one flight a day from Newport to JFK and back, supplemented by Air Freighters, would generate $5,000,000 in the first year, Net. Many more flights would generate enough revenue to fully fund our schools and give relief to our property taxes.
Parents don’t want their kids transported hours a day by bus. Kids don’t do well on reduced sleep. Families moved to areas based on the available schools. Who are we, the government officials, to tell Vermonters that all of this matters not to us, and that they need to accept whatever laws we decide for them? That’s not our job. Our job is to make it work for Vermonters. If it works easily for the government as well, that’s a bonus.
On August 9th, please vote for Ron Horton so we can work together for our kids. I’ll listen.
Question 4: Guns and gun control have become a hot topic in recent years with a growing number of high-profile killings. What can be done at the state level to help keep Vermonters safer?
This is a question to which I dare say nobody has THE answer. There are a lot of people who Think they have the answer, but they don’t.
If we are equating this to gun control I can speak to that. My views are that Vermont is a pretty safe place to live and work compared to places like Chicago or Miami. However, it has been proven that viscous attacks can, and do, happen anywhere.
Do we need guns that hold 50 bullets? Do background checks hurt anyone? Does a three day waiting period infringe on anyone’s rights? Do we need guns that look just like military weapons for deer hunting? Are guns the answer to keeping us safe in our homes and cars? The answers to these questions need to be seriously considered by everyone, not just gun-a-phobics.
Nice, France was attacked by a truck and the gun rights people were quick to point out that it’s not the guns. My suggestion to them is that if we can reduce the methods these madmen use to kill people is that such a bad thing. If we reduce the killing by one is that not enough? Would reducing it by eighty-four work better for you? For that one person we save I’d say it’s worth it to them and their families.
To help keep us safe I feel we need advanced information streamed more than the actual acts of violence. People need to be shown what to do if a gun is pointed at them, or a truck is trying to run them down. Sitting passively around is probably not a good idea. If I’m facing death then I’m going to die fighting to stay alive. And I can do that without a gun in my belt. www.RonHorton.info has my questionnaire from the Gun Owners of Vermont.
Question #5. Why did you pick the party that you are running under, and what about your party's platform, if any, do you not agree with? Do you agree with an opposing party on any major platform issues?
My hope is we will soon be able to include a third or fourth party that is taken seriously. Right now I’m attached to the Democratic Party, and I’m supporting democrats as much as I can. My beliefs are in line with both the Democratic and Progressive parties. There’s a dash of the other major party sprinkled within. It confuses me however, why my senior opponent runs as a Democrat. He seems to side more with Republicans.
Currently I’m a little miffed at the DNC for the way they handled the Presidential Primaries. I’m against Super Delegates, and the entire delegate system. I believe in One Person, One Vote. We need to get back to basics on this and not argue that the delegate method is easier to count. Give me a break.
How do I relate to the other major party? There is credence to statements like; ‘we should all work hard for what we get;’ or ‘we need less government;’ or ‘we should be united as a country.’
We all agree that zero handouts would be the ideal; however, handouts to the truly needy cannot be considered as anything other than a flaw in our society. When we get serious about education, on the job training, tech schools, closing tax loopholes, encouraging and supporting new businesses, and affordable housing, then we will start to work our way out of need. Corporate handouts, however, are greed, not need, and must be stifled.
Less government is something I encourage. We need to let adults be adults. Let’s not be quick to control others, rather suggest ways for them to grow and enhance their way of life.
Uniting the country is something all parties throw out there as a gotcha statement. When we start learning with our ears and not with our mouths we will truly unite.
Question #6: There has been a lot of talk about a carbon tax in Vermont. What is your position on a proposed carbon tax and why?
Here’s another example of a tax being used to solve a problem, when in truth it’s adding to our economic woes.
Pro-Carbon people say, ‘if we tax carbon everyone will drive less.’ That’s not the way it works however. If we increase the price of gas with yet another tax then it is only going to hurt those who can least afford this ‘benefit.’
Maybe in the cities that have viable mass transit you will see a slight decrease in the cars being driven, for a little while, however, in the rural areas such as the NEK… No. It’s next to impossible to drive less when your $10.00 an hour job is over an hour away. For the elderly, often their continuing treatments are two hours away. A forty-five minute drive to the store is not uncommon either.
Instead of putting a carbon tax on Vermonters let’s offer bonuses to inventors who come up with ways to burn our fossil fuels more efficiently, or get rid of them all together. There are engines that burn a mixture of water and fuel. How about a conversion for existing cars? We need something that works to reduce our carbon footprint through invention rather than taxation.
I can hear the Eeyores now. “We’re always gonna need fossil fuels.” I’ll give them my usual answer. You aren’t still driving buggies to the market are you? We put a rover on Mars, didn’t we? What’s so hard about inventing something that will burn less fossil fuel? That should be a piece of cake!
This isn’t a flippant remark. My confidence in our inventors is high. My confidence in a tax ever being able to make things better is so much lower. We can do this folks. Send New Blood to Montpelier!
QUESTION: The Vermont National Guard is slated to host the Air Force's new F-35 fighter jets major opposition by some. If elected, would you support the guard's move to replace its current F-16 fleet with the Country's most advanced fighter jet?
Being former Air Force, and having some thirty years in the Airline Industry, someone with a lot of expertise would need to convince me to be against anything that flies. The F-16s have been a stable aircraft for the ages, however they are quite outdated if we are looking for an aircraft that can defend against most any aircraft of current design, by any of the major powers.
I've seen the F-35 in action. It's an amazing aircraft. I've spoken with a pilot who flies one in airshows and he told me “if you can think it then this aircraft can pretty much do it.” Like most jet fighters it has a pilot who co-flys the plane with a computer. The computer is designed to make sure the pilot can't overdo anything and that computer has redundancy built into it.
This being said you can't make anything mechanical that is 100% foolproof. There will always be the possibility of an accident. The Air Force lost one on a training exercise just the other day, but that is certainly the exception to the rule.
I'm not in favor of the price tag for one of these jets, but, until we can get corruption out of government contracts we will over pay for all of our military supplies, and under pay our troops.
To get back to the question, I would support the guard's move to replace the F-16s with the F-35s. The 35s are quite a bit louder but their time in space is less due to the climb rate. And the takeoff has been decided to be done without afterburners from what I've heard. And the F-35 is a safe aircraft in spite of some who would argue otherwise. They will only get better with the modifications that come with any new jet.
Burlington has supported a very special Air Guard for decades. The pilots who fly these planes love this area and will do all they can to continue to respect what we have. They will fly the routes given them and do it safely. After all, they are the ones going with their hair on fire at thousands of feet above the ground. They have a lot further to fall then we armchair debaters.
What is the solution for high health care costs, and, if elected, how can you help to facilitate that solution?
There are no quick fixes for high health care costs, but there are a lot of ways to start the process of bringing costs down. Medicare for all is the ideal answer in my opinion. Single payer is a second best. Working toward the availability of medicines from across our northern border is a bandage that should fit in here.
Right now insurance companies have us all by the throats and I don't see anyone in the current congress stronghold who is putting forth any effort to hold them accountable for their actions. Hummm could there be some greased palms running around D.C.?....
The Federal level is where I look for the most support with enacting laws that will start us toward a Medicare for all society. Before that will happen we will need to vote the bums out who are currently in control. It is so obvious that they are concerned only with their pockets, not with the well-being of America and the citizens who pay their salaries. The slush money they receive is a much more lucrative business.
My part in lowering Health Care costs here in Vermont will be to push for Single Payer health care and to require pharmaceutical companies interested in doing business in Vermont to dramatically reduce their costs. If they don't bring their costs to a reasonable level they should face much higher taxes. Those taxes would be funneled into programs designed to help low income Vermonters procure the medicines they need. We should also work with the Canadian government on programs that will allow the import of low costs medicines.
Insurance companies must be required to cover, at very reasonable rates, pre-existing conditions.
These are my personal beliefs. The actual programs we decide on may be vastly different after bringing in the “Experts” for their input. As I will say often, I'm not the expert on everything. And I will not guess or gamble with the well-being of anyone. I'll be the one looking for qualified answers to the hard questions. We need to get it right the first time since 'fixing' problems is much harder.
QUESTION: What is one bill that you seek to introduce if elected?
Although there are many very important issues on my platform I would probably lead with a bill that would require the state to roll back property taxes two years for anyone 65 or older, or anyone with a verifiable disability. Taxes for these people would be frozen there for the rest of their lives, or in the case of a disability, until their condition improves. Income taxes would also be addressed in this bill since seniors do not have increases in their income, yet their taxes go up at the same rate as those still working in their professions.
I'm sure I will be introducing multiple bills at once. Our DMV needs a complete overhaul. Our transportation system is non-existent in the NEK. New Businesses need protection for the first five years so they can get up and stay running. Act 46 needs to be challenged. Big Pharm must be brought under control so those needing medicine can get it affordably. Single payer or Medicare for all must be pursued. Big money must stay out of politics. And we need 4 year terms... With Term limits.
QUESTION: With the primaries coming up in just a few days, why did you file under the party you are running under? What party platforms do you most align with, and how do you differ from your party's platform?
With the two party system you need to pick one for the Primaries. With that said I'll give an interesting response to the first sentence.
I'm a registered Democrat who has an Independent mind. I'll be running with the Democrats because I am pretty progressive, although I do support business ventures that make sense to our economy. You'll see me on the Democratic ticket for the Primaries even though I'm not happy with the DNC I do feel locally the VDP is trying.
My position on most everything is that we have to talk. We have to be able to see other points of view, discuss our differences, and find a way to make things better for everyone. There are far too many closed minds in Montpelier. I will be working to change that.
I align with looking out for people first. Too much of government is concerned with looking at the money first. My position is that we need to see the needs first, and Then make the money work. The platform I have put together shows many ways of generating vast amounts of money. We should be cutting government waste, not life sustaining programs.
The only slight difference I might see with the VDP is that I am in favor of bringing good, clean, corporations to the NEK, similar to the IBMs of the world. We need these companies to be able to rebuild our beautiful corner of the world. I certainly don't want to try and turn our Kingdom into NYC, but I do believe a few of these clean, good companies, will help our economy, offer jobs and opportunities to our youth, and help fill our schools.
Affordable childcare is not easy to find in Vermont, especially if you are lower income. If elected, what could you do to facilitate more affordable childcare in Vermont?
First of all I feel that many companies could set up room and resources for people to bring their kids to work and have a safe place for them to stay. If this means the state needs to provide incentives then that is what we should do. That being said I realize this is just not practical for many smaller businesses. This may be a situation were we can start utilizing our under used school buildings by providing an area for qualified caretakers to set up shop to offer low cost childcare. The use area should be provided at no fee which will allow for a very low per child cost.
We must also up the ante with our state provided pre-school programs. This is the age kids learn the quickest and are the easiest to be taught. If we don't capture these years we can never get them back.
The childcare tax deduction is good for those in the income bracket that gets a benefit. For those who don't make enough they don't get anything back. It would be worth looking into revising this structure to make it more fair for lower income earners. (And, thus we segue into raising the minimum wage...)
QUESTION: There has been talk in recent years about implementing a "Carbon Tax" of as much as 88¢ per gallon of fuel. If elected, would you support this measure? Why or why not??
The key word here is “Tax.” As I have stated many times Vermonters are the most over taxed and under-represented people in the country, In My Humble Opinion. To put another tax on us is not something I'll ever be in favor of doing.
Rather than putting a “Carbon Tax” on anyone, how about we just reduce the carbon. Taxing our way out of doing something wrong is not the right answer. We need to go to the root of the issue, our Carbon Footprint.
Our dependence on fossil fuels is dropping, but it's not where it needs to be yet. We continue letting companies dump things into our air and water as long as they pay a fee to do so. WHAT?! We know that doesn't make sense but we keep voting in the big pockets that let it happen.
If your neighbor decided he wanted to empty his septic tank onto your property you wouldn't say okay, as long as you pay me one hundred dollars. You'd say, no way. Yet our legislators let this happen on a daily basis. It may not be on your property directly but it certainly affects your property by polluting your air, and the water running under your property... that you eventually drink and breath.
It's time to put a stop to the pollution and then we won't need to even have a discussion about a “Carbon Tax.”
QUESTION: Do you support the goals of Act 46 (Vermont's school consolidation law), and, if elected, would you support a full or partial repeal of the law?
I'm pretty sure, or at least I hope, Act 46 was developed with the best intentions. However, you have probably heard the phrase connected with good intentions. That's where I feel Act 46 has led us.
If we want to talk about any kind of consolidation let's let it start with a top side consolidation. We can probably manage our school administrators more effectively without putting one kid in jeopardy of missing out on school curriculum or activities. Our schools need to stay out of reach of Montpelier. People moved to areas with certain schools for a reason. Are we now asking them to sell their homes and move? With the plans I have suggested we can fill our schools once again. We just don't need so many chiefs.
So, no, I don't support the “goals” of Act 46. This was one more of those laws that was thrown together without enough thought, especially thought about how it would hurt rural Vermont and the kids living here.
And, Yes, I would certainly support a repeal and do-over of the ideas this law was hoping to accomplish. In my world it should always be about the kids. If we decide what the kids need then we will absolutely decide how to pay for it. Again, this is detailed in my game plan, www.RonHorton.info .
Please take ten friends out to vote before November 6th.