To the Editor: Donovan for Attorney General

For the first time in 14 years, Vermonters have a choice in the race for Attorney General. I support T.J. Donovan because he has campaigned on the twin imperatives of defending the laws of the state of Vermont and setting an ambitious agenda for the office that will help Vermonters – and particularly working middle- and low-income people—in their daily lives.

Some view the job of the Attorney General as simply enforcing the laws of the state of Vermont without promoting a strong policy agenda that works for Vermonters. Donovan takes a different view. He has campaigned tirelessly to push for reform and policies that will make a measurable difference for Vermonters.

A good example is taking on the failed drug war by reforming our drug laws. Donovan has clearly and consistently pushed for tackling the scourge of opiate addiction by using drug courts to focus on the problem of addiction. He will advocate for “safe haven” laws for addicts so intervention may take place without fear of criminal conviction, and he’ll work to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. These are substantive changes that would relieve pressure on our criminal justice system for non-violent, small-time offenders, reduce crime by getting addicts into treatment, and ensure that youthful indiscretions or petty mistakes do not prevent Vermonters from later accessing federal student loans or public housing.

In addition, Donovan has campaigned aggressively on creating a statewide policy for law enforcement on Taser use and greater transparency through access to public records. And he’s pledged to create an elder abuse unit in the Attorney General’s office to stop exploitation of vulnerable seniors, among other policies. Taken together T.J. Donovan has crafted an ambitious agenda for change.

Bill Sorrell is a loyal Democrat and he’s served honorably as Attorney General. Unfortunately, he hasn’t put forward a clear vision for the office in the future.

In a recent debate on Vermont Public Television, for example, Mr. Sorrell failed to identify his top priority for a new term, simply saying “it depends.” He has pursued priorities in the past. For example, after his re-election in 2010 Mr. Sorrell pursued (but failed to muster support for) a $30 million soda tax. And, Mr. Sorrell recently indicated he would pursue greater transparency of Super PAC donors after he determined not to enforce Vermont’s laws regulating Super PACs resulting from a decision in the U.S. District Court (the timing was ironic, as it has since come to light that Mr. Sorrell is himself the beneficiary of Super PAC contributions in this election). Championing public policy is well within the job description of the Vermont Attorney General. The question for voters is whose vision for the office is more compelling.

Vermonters have a real choice in this election. It’s not about loyalty. It’s about leadership. It’s a choice between more of the same, or a real agenda that promises to be “smart on crime” and help Vermonters in their daily lives. It’s a choice between the past and the future. It’s time for a change. Vote for T.J. Donovan in the Democratic primary on Aug. 28.

Christopher Curtis
Northfield, VT

Christopher Curtis is an attorney and co-chair of the Northfield Democrats.


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