The Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP is pleased to present the results of its 2020 candidate survey and legislative report card. As the nation’s oldest non-partisan civil rights group, the NAACP has a mission to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP prioritizes dialogue with officials and the community about racial equity.
Our survey contained thirteen questions, in honor of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to outlaw slavery. These questions were meant to prompt candidates to provide their perspectives and plans to address issues of significant influence in the lives and well-being of people of color when it comes to some of the most critical and controversial topics of today. Recognizing that no dimension of identity exists separate of others, some questions were intentionally intersectional as, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We also looked at key pieces of legislation to see how closely incumbents’ decisions aligned with the Rutland NAACP’s legislative priorities. The legislation we considered addressed civil rights, voting rights, criminal justice, economic justice, education, environmental justice, and health.
We invite the public to carefully review each candidate’s responses to the questions and each incumbent’s votes on crucial legislation. We would also like to draw attention to some disturbing patterns in the results:
- Only 30% of the queried candidates responded to the survey
- Only 42% of House and Senate incumbents received a passing grade on the legislative report card
- No Republican candidates returned the survey
In a state that tops the list for the disproportionate incarceration of Black men, where students of color are disproportionately punished for the same infractions and more harshly than white students, where Black Vermonters are twice as likely as non-black Vermonters to be living below the poverty line, where people of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and where recent outbreaks of hate have had such a devastating effect on Vermonters of color, we are gravely disturbed that so few candidates responded to a survey from the largest racial justice organization in the state and the 2nd largest NAACP chapter in New England. All candidates, regardless of party, should be making racial justice a priority.
As a non-partisan organization, the Rutland Area NAACP invites all candidates to the table because we believe that dignity, identity, access to resources, respect, and freedom are not bound by political affiliation; they are matters of humanity that all people—especially those who seek to serve our community—should care deeply about. Our publication of the survey results—and the names of candidates who opted not to reply—is not an endorsement of any candidate; it is insight into the candidate’s position on issues about racial injustice and how closely their views and intentions to address the issue align with our own. We encourage the voters to be well-informed before casting their votes.