WHAT (AND HOW) TO ASK CANDIDATES THIS ELECTION

 

It’s more important than ever that climate justice reaches the ears of our political candidates this election cycle. But pressing them with questions can be scary! Here are a couple questions and some quick tips so you can push your elected officials to make climate a priority. ____________________________________________________________________________

HOW TO ASK

Tips: How to be polite, persistent, and radical in communicating with candidates

 

 

  • Be specific

 

      • Vagueness is almost always not a good thing when it comes to asking elected officials questions, because they will pivot and dodge and do whatever it takes to avoid hard questions. Make sure your questions are as specific as possible!

 

  • Do your research – and tell your story

 

      • This helps with being specific – if you know the bills or the measures you want to advocate for, it forces the candidate to directly address the issue at, instead of pivoting to a related, but unproductive, talking point.
      • Doing your research will let you tie in logical arguments and specific points!
      • Tying in your personal story or perspective with facts is an excellent way to reach your candidate’s heart and mind.

 

  • Don’t (necessarily) be confrontational…

 

      • Especially in Vermont, polarization can often “turn off” candidates to the point that they no longer hear what you’re saying.

 

  • But stick to your guns

 

      •  Remember why you’re doing this, and just how important it is that we see this change now. Be assertive – even if it scares you a little!

 

  • Be persistent

 

    • It takes a lot of effort to change a candidate’s mind or ensure they’re doing the right thing. Your single conversation or letter will not produce immediate results, but doggedly ensuring climate is on the agenda will make a difference. Don’t give up hope!

WHAT TO ASK:

As you read these questions, notice that a certain format:

Background + specific ask = good question. 

It’s even better to add some personal experience to that formula, making it:

Background + personal experience + specific ask = great question

Feel free to mix and match the language of each question (if it works) to form something that feels best for you! 

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Fossil Fuel Infrastructure:

Vermont cannot meet its Global Warming Solutions Act goals, or the goals of the Paris Accord, while also building new fossil fuel projects. Will you commit to banning any new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure? Will you work to ban the use of eminent domain to build new fossil fuel projects?

 

Black Lives Matter & Defunding the police

The recent killings of black bodies across the US has set off a racial reckoning – both in the United States and here in Vermont. 

  • What specific proposals will you support to work towards racial equity and a safer Vermont for everyone?
  • How will you defund and demilitarize Vermont’s police system so that all communities are protected?
  • How will you shift tax dollars away from police departments in a way that will benefit marginalized communities in Vermont?
  • Are reparations part of your platform? Why not?

 

More Climate Justice Questions continued….

While the Global Warming Solutions Act commits Vermont to a long term planning process to lower emissions, addressing the climate crisis also means that the legislature must address its (housing crisis, income inequality, healthcare, etc.)

  • What specific initiatives will you support in the legislature that will address ___?
  • Do you support paid family leave, stronger healthcare for all Vermonters, etc.?

 

  • What will you do to transform Vermont’s economy and fund innovative programs to address climate change?
  • Do you support taxing the wealthiest 5% of Vermonters in order to fund climate initiatives that will benefit all Vermonters?
    • Do you support Senator Pollina’s GND bill to tax wealthy Vermonter’s who have gained millions from the Administration’s tax cuts?

 

 

 

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  • The Global Warming Solutions Act sets up a long term planning process for how Vermont can meet the climate crisis, but the crisis is so urgent that Vermont must act effectively to meet the crisis while the planning process goes forward. What three or four specific climate initiatives will you press the legislature to adopt during the 2021-22 legislative session?

 

  • The Corona virus pandemic has hit the state’s finances hard with respect to both increased spending and decreased revenues. But the climate crisis continues to be at least as urgent now as it was before the pandemic. Where do you place dealing with climate and energy issues in your list of priorities and how do you propose to pay for the climate and energy initiatives you pursue? For example, do you favor an income tax surcharge on wealthy Vermonters to pay for specific urgent climate and energy initiatives?

 

 

 

  • Most plans for meeting the climate crisis call for increasing electrification of the systems we use. Do you think this will increase our dependency on the regional electric grid? Or do you think we can and should be moving toward a decentralized distributed system for generating electricity?

 

  • How will you act to reduce the waste of electricity and encourage less waste and greater efficiency in the use of electricity throughout the state?