Last Monday, Vermont Daily Chronicle emailed the same questionnaire to candidates in most contested statewide races in tomorrow’s Democratic and Republican primary. Below are one candidate’s answers to these questions: “If elected, how would you:
Reduce the cost of living?
Promote widespread, affordable home ownership?
Protect the public from crime?
Promote successful schools?
Protect a clean environment?
Protect civil liberties?
In any other way promote the welfare of your constituents?
Myers Mermel, Republican candidate for Senate
With deep Vermont roots that date back seven generations to the Green Mountain Boys, Myers was born on a U.S. Naval base in Sasebo, Japan, and graduated from UVM in 1984. He went on to earn a Master in History degree from Columbia and another Master of Divinity (Theology) degree from Yale.
He has 35 years of experience working in financial services and running a commercial real estate finance business. Myers has overseen the relocation of over 300,000 high-paying jobs across New England over his career. That is nearly half the population of the State of Vermont. He was responsible for moving Morgan Stanley to Times Square, which set up the redevelopment of that crime ridden district by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Chief Bill Bratton. He was the exclusive advisor to Gov. George Pataki in the resettlement of 886 companies in the 18 damaged and destroyed buildings after 9/11. In rebuilding Lower Manhattan, he was part of America’s response to terror.
Lastly over the past decade his business has worked with churches across New England in the disposition of excess property and air rights, netting these churches over $200 million for mission and affordable housing. He also has extensive experience with the stock and bond markets, multifamily housing, zoning, and investments. Having purchased a home in Manchester and returned to Vermont in 2015, he lives there with his terrific wife and three wonderful children.
Reduce the cost of living? – The cost of living is the overall cost of goods and services. This overall cost has been heightened by (i) inflation on food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation, medical services, and other day-to-day goods and services, (aka PCE), (ii) goods shortages caused by post-pandemic demand, (iii) increased shipping costs, (iv) rising wages, (v) extreme weather in the Gulf of Mexico, Ida and Nicholas, and a drought in coffee regions of Brazil, (vi) trade barriers, (vii) unwinding of government pandemic support, and (viii) the growth in fiat money supply. Core inflation (CPI) is over 9% today.
To address the above, I will aim for the Trump 2/2/2 economy: 2% inflation, $2 gasoline, and 2% unemployment. To get there, I would utilize a modified Kudlow economic strategy by cutting taxes; cutting wasteful spending (like the new Build Back Better called IRA); deregulating industries; opening the spigot on drilling to return to energy independence; compelling the Fed Reserve to sell assets from its balance sheet and raise rates slowly; and seeking the immediate termination of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen who admitted she “did not see the path inflation would take.”
We don’t think big enough. Rather than shrink expenses, let’s grow income by recruiting higher paying employers. I have relocated over 300,000 jobs over the course of my career (that total is half the population of Vermont) I can recruit companies here. It won’t be easy, but I do see opportunities. Our average income is only $59,000 according to BEA and the regional average is $76,000. This is a direct result of confiscatory liberal policies. We deserve a $17,000 raise achieved through better fiscal policies which would allow the markets to work.
Promote widespread, affordable home ownership? – This question conflates two issues. One is the affordability of housing and the second is the provision of affordable housing.
On the issue of affordability, we find home prices out of reach of many Vermonters, often driven higher by wealthier out-of-staters. Nowhere is the distinction of our lower average income apparent than in the housing crisis today. We can’t buy the houses next to us because we don’t have the higher paying jobs the out-of-staters do. If elected, I will bring high paying employers, including a federal microchip fabrication plant investment of $2-8 billion, which will have an economic multiplier effect throughout Vermont communities. Increasing borrowing rates will bring land prices down, but this will not be an answer to our problems. Rate increases will create more problems.
Current affordable housing needs total approximately 6,000 units. Regrettably the money allocated to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) to build affordable housing is being hugely misspent. Over $240 million has been allocated to build affordable housing, but for this price, VHCB is delivering only 609 units at an average price per door of $400,000. This is outrageous. These units should be built for $100,000 per door. My company just bought 70 units of market rate apartments (one level above affordable) in Georgia for $78,000 per door. Something is really wrong and it’s not just excessive regulations or Act 250, although I am sure regulations are making things somewhat more expensive. If elected, I will get to the bottom of this and make sure we provide affordable housing at market rates. I will also work across the state to secure land and whatever subsidies we need to build the affordable housing required to keep our communities together.
Protect the public from crime? – Out of control crime is a threat we face in Vermont the likes of which we have not faced before. The horrific outcomes we now see of rampant vehicular theft, shootings, and murders did not come about overnight. These outcomes have come about because those in a position to stop it did not respond, or simply did not do what was needed.
Now there exist two separate justice systems (one for the law abiding and one for the lawless), no accountability for criminal actions, a revolving door of criminality, and more effort to protect the criminal than protect the public. Prosecutors like my opponent did not stop rising crime and drug deaths when they had the opportunity. The result is that things are out of control.
Police departments, like Burlington, have been defunded and have faced departures of more than 40% of staff. The officers who have stayed suffer from low morale and significant staffing shortages. We cannot allow the same group of woke prosecutors who created this problem to remain in place, or in the instance of my race, to get promoted.
If elected, I will fully fund police departments, and where appropriate, provide extra federal assistance to meet shortfalls. This may be helpful in combatting the drug trade which crosses our border at New York and Massachusetts. As it is, staffing is a zero-sum game. The inability of Burlington Police to respond to incidents means that officers have to be drawn from other areas and those areas suffer as a consequence of Burlington’s woke Restorative Justice failures. We need more money in the departments across the state.
I have written extensively about the failure of the Department of Justice to provide reporting back to Vermont and its communities. As it is now, Vermont funnels all of its local reports to the D.O.J. But since Biden has come to office, the D.O.J. has not sent any information back. We need this information to support our police and help them address needs. If elected, I will use my position to compel D.O.J. to report. Why did my opponent—herself a D.O.J. employee– never do anything to stop this? My Op-ed on this issue is located here( http://www.truenorthreports.com/myers-mermel-lack-of-proper-crime-data-reporting-undermining-law-enforcement-in-vermont )
I have also written about Act 254 and how the issue of removal of Qualified Immunity has not been resolved; it has only been postponed until after November. The study which Act 254 commissions will undoubtedly reach its intended conclusion of removal of Qualified Immunity. The study is being authored by the Vermont Law School and its governing charge is constructed in such a way that it will find failure with Qualified Immunity. The loss of Qualified Immunity for the police will mean the resignation of at least 50% of all force staffing across the state, it is reported. This is a major crisis. If elected, I would block this with all the tools at my disposal. My Op-ed on the issue is here ( http://www.truenorthreports.com/mermel-removal-of-qualified-immunity-will-bring-catastrophic-defunding-of-police-statewide )
The open southern border is allowing for excessive, unchecked illegal immigration as well dangerous fentanyl and other drug smuggling. We need to fully enforce the border laws and stop the invasion. Legal immigration should be our goal, and illegal immigration should be stopped.
Promote successful schools? Nothing is as central to the health of our Republic as the health of our families. Families should have full control over what is taught in schools to their children. The government is not a substitute for the family.
School choice must be part of educational system here in Vermont. If a community chooses to subsidize any area, especially education, then the subsidy should belong to the family, not the school district. We need to introduce the free market to our education system for its own benefit. As FEDEX improved the Post Office, school choice can improve our public schools. School monies should follow the child.
I have written extensively about the crisis at UVM. Currently UVM enrollment of Vermonters is only 18% level. UVM is a “public” institution, but it acts as if it were private. I believe UVM is in violation of its charter by virtue of the fact that its student body is composed of less than 50% Vermont students. UVM enjoys a public benefit which is rent-free occupancy of arguably the best 1,000 acres in Vermont. My remedy is to have UVM admit more than 50% Vermonters, and for every year in which it fails to do so, it should pay ground rent of $60 million to Chittenden County and $5 million to every other county as damages for not educating Vermont students. See my Op-ed here ( http://www.truenorthreports.com/myers-mermel-uvm-should-make-land-rent-payment-until-it-educates-vermonters-once-again )
We also need to examine our state educational system and explore the means to increase technical school capacity and admissions as the trades are chronically understaffed. It isn’t clear why the market isn’t responding to providing us with more tradespeople, perhaps there are impediments which are not observable from the outside. If there are excessive benefits which inhibit work, we need to rationalize and reduce these to allow people to enjoy the dignity of work.
Protect a clean environment? – As an outdoorsman, hunter, amateur botanist, fisherman, and bird watcher, I want to ensure we leave the planet in better shape for our children than how we found it. One might say it is a moral imperative to protect a clean environment. I am glad Vermont funded $100 million for upgrades to our ancient wastewater and sewer systems. The proper functioning of these systems protects our waterways, flora, and fauna.
While we recognize that human activity can affect the world through pollution, note the global effects of leaded gasoline for example, we must also recognize good stewardship of the environment can improve the health of the earth. Our concern and desire to limit greenhouse gases must not stop at our own borders. This is a worldwide problem, and we need fair worldwide solutions.
It does not seem right to make Vermonters suffer from limitations placed on greenhouse gas use when our global neighbors in China and India continue to pollute without consequence. China is the largest greenhouse emitter; in fact, it emits more greenhouse gasses then the entire developed world combined. China is currently building 43 new coal-fired power plants and 18 new blast furnaces according to Time Magazine. This is incredible.
The announced Chinese targets of net zero emissions by 2060 are too little and too slow. We need to develop tariffs and taxes on Chinese and Indian goods which will force them to act more quickly. Greening the electric grid of China more quickly is achievable and should be our primary goal. I do not believe we should be more demanding of our own citizens than we are of the world’s worst polluters.
Protect civil liberties? Civil rights are claims which rest upon legislation. Civil liberties, however, are freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution, and are natural rights bestowed by the Creator inherent to each person.
Civil liberties are found primarily in our Bill of Rights and include the right to free speech, free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to petition, and free assembly; the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures; the right to a speedy trial, by an impartial jury, the right to confront witnesses with the right to an attorney; the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment; and due process.
Civil liberties can often be imperiled by imperatives of societal well-being. I will do all in my power to safeguard individual liberty in the face of threats from emergencies and other governmental needs which would override guaranteed individual freedoms.
In any other way promote the general welfare of your constituents? – In the Federalist No. 41, James Madison described the powers bestowed by the Constitution upon government and the meaning of “general welfare.” Madison argued that spending by the government must be tied to enumerated powers in the Constitution, like common defense and foreign commerce, in order to justify its ability to tax. The idea that the concept of general welfare stood alone and was a separate grant of power struck Madison as too broad and as a potential source of abuse. Later in the 1790s, after ratification, Alexander Hamilton argued that the broader interpretation was more appropriate as it would allow Congress to exercise the ability to aid in broader national prerogatives like agriculture and education.
I favor Hamilton’s interpretation of general welfare and believe that government can advance national prerogatives, but this power to promote general welfare must have limits. The Hamiltonian interpretation which I favor does fit well within the line of historical Vermont thought. Rev. Samuel Williams, perhaps our most important early intellectual, saw the role of government as broader, and society as ever improving, despite man’s nature, in his Natural and Civil History of Vermont (1794). In the same vein, H.A.P. Torrey nearly a century later saw a role for an even broader definition of general welfare which animated the work of his student, Vermont’s foremost intellect, John Dewey.
General welfare concerns government’s ability to aid communities. Our ability to retain our individual freedom while living in community is central to Vermont’s way of life. If elected I would seek to preserve the religious liberty, constitutional republic, and free market systems which have built this state, and which continue to give us hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.
God Bless The State Of Vermont And God Bless These United States.