- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont’s Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is continuing his call for bold change while his Republican challenger wants to slam the brakes on that change and make the state a “boring, better place” while the Libertarian candidate wants to let the free market rule the future.

Meanwhile, the Liberty Union candidate invited to the debate at Vermont Public Radio’s Colchester studios on Tuesday evening continued his decades-long call to bring the state to socialism.

Those were the stark differences Vermont voters will face when they go to the polls in November.

During the 90-minute debate, Shumlin defended his efforts to create a single payer health care system despite the continuing challenges of the Vermont Health Connect website.

He also noted that despite Vermont’s low unemployment rate, the economy isn’t as robust as he’d like.

“We have a lot more work to do,” said Shumlin, who is seeking his third two-year term. “The challenge we are facing is the middle class continues to get kicked in the teeth, low income Vermonters are continuing to lose ground.”

Shumlin’s Republican challenger Scott Milne, a Pomfret businessman, said he wants take his foot off the pedal of change, reduce state spending and taxes and give Vermont the opportunity to catch its breath.

“I want Vermont to be a better place going forward,” Milne said near the end of the debate. “I think the boring, better place that we need to get to over the next few years is, let’s slow down, let’s not rush into things, let’s get more balance in Montpelier so that we’ve got a chance to step back and think about things.”

Libertarian Dan Feliciano reiterated his call to reduce government, spending and taxes while protecting gun rights.

“I am a small government guy. I want to stop single payer, I want to cut total spending, and I want to reduce property taxes and provide school choice,” Feliciano said.

Liberty Union candidate Peter Diamondstone, the perennial candidate, continued his call for creating a socialized government

“All major means of production would be functions of communities and neighborhoods,” Diamondstone said. “Capitalism doesn’t work and will lead ultimately to the destruction of the planet.”

Shumlin said he was disappointed by the lingering problems with Vermont Health Connect, the state’s health insurance website, but he remained committed to fixing it and Vermont’s push to create the nation’s first single-payer health care system.

Milne called the Shumlin administration’s health care policies a “boondoggle” and said it was another example of why a more moderate approach was needed. Feliciano called for opening up the marketplace to more competition.

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