As people head to the polls tomorrow to vote for their choice of candidates, voters need to remember it’s not just the White House that is on the line – many local and state races are equally important for America’s future. One such race can be found in Vermont, where the State Treasurer position is currently being fought over by three candidates all with different views on state pensions and divestment.
In Vermont, the State Treasurer holds the responsibilities to invest the state funds, oversee the pensions of state employees, teachers, and some municipalities, as well as an assortment of other tasks. Since divestment, or the act of intentionally withdrawing investments from certain industries, has grown in Vermont, the role of Treasurer has become even more politicized than ever before.
As discussed in a previous post, the incumbent candidate Beth Pearce won her primary election against Richard Dunne back in August, but now she faces two other candidates for tomorrow’s general election – Murray Ngoima and Don Schramm. Pearce, who has always been vocal against divestment, recently said during a Vermont Public Radio interview that she believes “you can have a clean environment and retirement security, and we’re working to do both.” Pearce also pointed out that she has had studies that conducted that conclude fossil fuel divestment would result in a financial loss to the pension fund of 50,000 active, vested, and retired members for whom she is responsible.
In the same interview, opponent Ngoima disagreed with Pearce, but Schramm actually applauded Pearce for her past efforts on this issue and points out that because of her efforts divestment “is less of an issue than it has been previously.”
Tomorrow’s election is an opportunity for voters to take a stand on many issues affecting their homes and communities, including the funding of pensions, which make up of a major portion of Americans’ retirement savings. Unfortunately, like so many other communities, Vermont has turned pension funding into a political debate – so exercise your right to vote and protect your pension.