On Saturday, September 22, 2018, the Rutland Area branch of the NAACP was pleased to host a forum for Vermont candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. All of the candidates qualified to run for these offices in the November 6th General Election were invited to participate.
Participants included candidates for Governor: Trevor Barlow, Christine Hallquist, Emily Peyton and Stephen Marx; candidate for Lieutenant Governor: Murray Ngoima; and candidate for Attorney General: Janssen Willhoit.
Candidates were given an opportunity to introduce themselves, and then responded to a question from the NAACP regarding the candidates’ plans for addressing the needs of marginalized persons in Vermont. The audience then posed their own questions, including queries regarding plans to address race-based disparities in the criminal justice system, the plan to move Vermonters to a private prison in Mississippi, and the role of white people in working for racial justice.
All of the candidates acknowledged the need to address racial inequity in Vermont. Stephen Marx commented on the link between racial justice and climate justice. Emily Peyton highlighted the need for restorative justice. Christine Hallquist discussed plans for reducing the prison population and the economic benefits of doing so. Trevor Barlow drew attention to the advantages of conveying an image of Vermont as a welcoming state to everyone. Murray Ngoima commented on the role of the prison system as a continuation of slavery. And Janssen Willhoit discussed his efforts to ensure that people of color receive fair and just treatment in the criminal justice system.
The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP was pleased by the candidates’ willingness to grapple with these difficult and important questions, and by the Rutland community’s support in doing so. We look forward to hosting similar forums in the years to come. Thank you to everyone who participated.