Editor’s note: We asked the candidates from the major parties running for statewide and federal office to answer the following questions. Today, we hear from the candidate running for state treasurer. H. Brooke Paige also appears on the statewide ballot as a Republican candidate for state treasurer. He also appears on the ballot as a candidate for secretary of state. Paige chose to answer questions relative to that race, which appeared in Tuesday’s edition. There are no third-party candidates also appearing on the ballot for this race.
Experience: Former commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation
What motivated you to run for state treasurer?
First, Vermont’s current treasurer, Beth Pearce, encouraged me to run for the office and I am honored to have her support.
Second, having served six years as the commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulations, I have the experience and technical skills necessary to do the job well. Our department regulates Vermont’s banking, insurance and investment industries and protects Vermont consumers; all of which is applicable to serving successfully as State Treasurer. Also, the experience gained from serving this past year on the Pension Task Force motivated me to run so I can help ensure a strong public pension system for the next generation of public servants.
Finally, the State Treasurer has the opportunity to work on some of the most important issues facing Vermont, including our demographics, lack of housing, lack of affordable childcare and climate change. I am hoping to follow in Beth Pearce’s footsteps by having a significant influence on our state’s policy making. The State Treasurer has a unique opportunity to be a voice for Vermont’s economy and amplify these issues integral to our state.
What are the biggest challenges facing the state treasurer?
Some of the biggest challenges facing our state, and any elected official, are finding the right policies and making the right strategic investments to reverse our demographic trends, increase housing, affordable childcare and to make our communities and economy more resilient to changing climate.
In addition, the State Treasurer specifically has the critical role in helping strengthen our public sector pensions and ensuring all Vermonters have the resources and education to ensure a strong financial future.
How do you plan to address those challenges?
We must continue to fully fund the state’s pension system every year and help drive down our unfunded liabilities. A public pension system is critical for attracting and retaining well-qualified workers within our public school system and our local and state governments. It’s central to ensuring all public sector employees can afford to retire here in Vermont.
Addressing our aging demographic will require action on housing, childcare and climate.
Addressing our housing shortages will come down to regulation and resources. Though Act 250 plays a role in preserving our state’s rural landscape, we must ensure it is working to meet the environmental goals of reducing our carbon output by in-filling our city, town and village centers. Denser housing in our downtowns would equally reduce reliance on methods of transportation that emit fossil fuels.
State policy also needs to support opening more childcare centers, especially in our rural communities. Having more facilities, and creating more availability for children, will help drive down the cost of childcare. Current shortages have kept thousands of Vermonters, particularly women, out of the workforce. We must support families and ensure our businesses have the necessary workforce to be successful.
Climate change is a fundamental threat to our way of life and economy. We must continue to build the necessary climate-focused infrastructure, including EV charging stations, home weatherization, waste water systems, and much more. We also need to continue to build out renewable energy so it is cleaner, more reliable, and cheaper to power homes and businesses.
Explain why you identify with your party affiliation.
I’m running to be the first openly gay state treasurer in Vermont history. The Democratic Party has a long history of defending and upholding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
The party has equally been at the forefront of many of the issues I care deeply about, including housing, childcare, public health, and climate action. These challenges are critical to preserving the Vermont we love, strengthening our economy, and supporting working families.
Like our nation, our state is sharply being divided by partisanship. How do you plan to bring sides together?
Bipartisanship is in my DNA. My mom is a lifelong democrat, and my dad is a lifelong republican. Growing up, we would have lively family discussions that taught me the importance of listening, keeping an open mind and fostering constructive dialogue.
I bring this perspective to my professional life, having worked for both democratic and republican governors as the commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation. I’ll work with anyone to solve problems and achieve the best outcomes possible for Vermonters.
The ability to foster dialogue and achieve progress is more important than ever in our state and our country.
Describe yourself in one adjective, and explain why you identify with it?
Inclusive. In order to create sustainable, long term change, we need everyone at the table working collaboratively. Having worked for both Democrat and Republican governors, I know how to work across party lines to achieve just that. As the first openly gay state treasurer in our state’s history, I would be equally committed to amplifying the voices of Vermonters who, historically, have been left out of decision making, specifically BIPOC Vermonters and our LGBTQ+ community.
Our state’s greatest challenges, primarily housing, child care, and climate change, affect all of us. We all must play a role in the solution.
What differentiates you as a candidate?
My personal and professional experiences differentiate me as a candidate. Having helped lead Vermont’s COVID-19 response, I have a proven track record of successfully working on important issues under pressure to serve Vermonters.
As commissioner, our department protected Vermont consumers and recouped over $13 million penalties and restitution for Vermonters. I also expanded the department’s oversight of new financial platforms including cryptocurrency that ultimately led to a $100 million multi-state settlement.
If elected, I would serve as the first openly gay state treasurer in our state’s history. I’m running for State Treasurer to bring my unique set of experiences to Montpelier to achieve the best possible solutions for all Vermonters.