Mark Snelling came to the Statehouse on Thursday to announce his campaign for lieutenant governor. Snelling, a Republican and son of former Gov. Richard Snelling, was flanked by his family and longtime friends including Lola Aiken, widow of Sen. George Aiken, Bill Stenger, owner of Jay Peak Resort, and Stephan Morse, former Speaker of the House.
As lieutenant governor, Snelling said he wants to lower taxes, relicense Vermont Yankee, protect the Vermont brand, lower education spending and reform the permitting process for businesses.
For the last 35 years, Snelling has run manufacturing businesses, and he is now president of Shelburne Corporation, a manufacturer of brass wire products.
He attended Phillips Academy and graduated from Harvard University in 1974 with a degree in government.
Snelling has served on the boards of Housing Vermont, the Vermont Land Turst, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont and the governor’s Council of Environmental Advisors. He is the volunteer president of the Snelling Center for Government.
He has never held public office.
Snelling lives in Starksboro with his wife, Linda. They have three adult children.
Snelling’s speech and video clips of the Cedar Creek Room press conference follow.
“Returning Opportunity to Vermont”
I remember first setting foot in this building nearly 50 years ago. I was a ten year old, coming to watch my father at his part time job as a freshman legislator. I remember being in awe of the grandeur of the building, the feeling of camaraderie, and the overall serious sense of purpose. Since that first visit, I have been back here hundreds of times, some as work sessions, and some for joyous occasions and once for a very sad ceremony.
The people in this building are here temporarily to work for the good of the people of the entire State. We come here and share our differing views and then work together toward solutions to our problems. This building represents the hope, the belief, and the knowledge that we, as Vermonters are responsible for our future.
My parents came to Vermont in the 1950s with nothing but hope, three children and a good work ethic. They wanted to have the opportunity to work hard, raise their family in a pleasant and safe environment, and find ways to engage themselves in community service. Vermont gave them the gift of opportunity. The gift was not monetary, nor was it handed to them. To ensure these opportunities exist for Vermonters into the future requires that our children get a world class education, that our graduates find good paying jobs, that small businesses are able to expand, that people in need get a helping hand.
I have been fortunate to have the gift of opportunity from Vermont, but I am concerned that it is no longer available for all of Vermont’s citizens. I have been able to be an active participant in the public policy process in Vermont for over 35 years as a citizen volunteer. I have had the benefit of working and learning from not only Richard Snelling and Barbara Snelling, but from other Governors going back many years.
I believe it is my responsibility to help return opportunity to Vermont. It is for this reason that I am announcing today that I am a candidate for Lt. Governor of Vermont in 2010.
Vermont is facing some very difficult challenges. As we face these challenges, I believe it is important that we tackle them from a position of strength and optimism. The strength comes from our very character as Vermonters. We have bright, hard working, and engaged citizens who can confront problems directly, finding common sense solutions to anything that challenges them. The optimism should come from the confidence that Vermonters have always shared when facing difficult times. We have always come together as one community in a time of need. Today’s challenges will be met with the same strength and optimism that has been our hallmark in the past. We will succeed.
The key to Vermont’s long term success is a return to economic prosperity. Economic prosperity will not be achieved quickly, or without hard work, but it is the goal that we must strive for if we are to rebuild Vermont’s economy. Small business growth is the engine that enables Vermont to preserve our beautiful environment and to create jobs and investment so every Vermonter will benefit. Without economic prosperity, we will not be able to offer our children good paying jobs and the chance to raise their families in Vermont.
Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Vermonters have been at the forefront of the environmental movement and we are rightfully proud of our accomplishments of keeping Vermont a place where the environment is celebrated daily by our individual and collective actions. Our beautiful mountains, lakes, forests, and working landscapes are prime jewels in our lives and we must continue to enhance their beauty while making sure they are available to Vermonters to enjoy and use as resources for recreation and for restoration of the spirit.
As we envision a future for Vermont that includes a clean and healthy environment interlocked with economic prosperity, we must create an incubator of ideas for new approaches to our problems. We must have the courage to use these innovative ideas to achieve our goals.
Our first priority must be to control the cost of government. Government services are essential in our lives, and we must remember that those services are paid for by the taxes on individuals and businesses in the state. It is critically important that we set priorities and deliver services efficiently, effectively, and compassionately. Only then are Vermonters – both those requiring services and those paying the taxes – served well. A streamlined government, using new technology combined with earlier intervention for at risk Vermonters can save taxpayers millions of dollars while still providing necessary services.
Economic prosperity will benefit all Vermonters by increasing incomes for individuals thereby increasing revenues for government.
We must reduce the overall tax burden. We cannot create new jobs in Vermont when we are one of the highest taxed states in the country.
We must have a prompt and predictable permitting system. Businesses will not make future investments if they are unsure of the permitting outcomes or the timeline. We can and must do this without loosening our environmental principles.
We must lower the cost of education while improving the quality and relevance of the education. Today’s world is changing quickly and we must be willing to use new technology and innovative ideas to prepare our children well. Our citizens must also be able to see the connection between their spending and improved outcomes for students.
We must rebuild our infrastructure. Good jobs depend on good infrastructure including access to high speed internet by all Vermonters. Crumbling roads and bridges will continue to interfere with our job creation efforts.
We must have access to affordable, safe, and reliable, low cost energy. It is my belief that nuclear energy has to be part of this mix along with increased efforts at efficiency and the use renewable sources of energy, such as wind and hydro.
We must take advantage of our fertile land resources and increase the number of Vermont food and craft products in the marketplace. Our Vermont brand can help provide a new way of life for our struggling farm families.
Each of these steps will require the hard work of thousands of dedicated Vermonters. They will need to have committed, experienced leaders to help move toward our goals.
I am not a politician but I am ready to help lead Vermont into the future.
I have been well prepared for this office by my parents, my business experiences, my nonprofit work, and my service to State government.
I have been a small business owner for almost 30 years. I have worked with thousands of employees to build businesses in several different industries and have worked in three different states. I have had to learn how to balance the budget in good times and in bad times. I have learned how to solve problems and to adapt to changing times. While this all may seem like common sense, it is what we need to do more of in Montpelier. Economic development is not something I just talk about, it is what I have been doing. I have worked with hundreds of business owners and I know what it will take to grow and attract business to Vermont.
The issues facing Vermont today are issues I am passionate about and have personally been working on for over 35 years. I’ve been honored to work with the last five Governors on economic and environmental issues. Currently, I am the Chair of Governor Douglas’ Council of Environmental Advisors. I’ve also worked extensively in the community throughout my business career. I was a founding director and board chair of Housing VT, a nonprofit company that has built over 4,000 units of permanently affordable housing in Vermont. I also was chair of The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and on the Board of the Vermont Land Trust. I also spent 8 years on the Board of the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont.
As Lt. Governor, I will use those experiences to help guide Vermont’s future.
None of this will be easy. Very little of this can be accomplished quickly. But we must start.
We are proud to be Vermonters because we will protect the neediest among us.
We are proud to be Vermonters because we will provide good educations for our youth.
We are proud Vermonters because we will protect our environment; the farms, woodlands, and waters that make up this beautiful state.
We must also deliver the gift of opportunity to all Vermonters if we want young people and business to thrive in Vermont.
Only then will we be able to look at the faces on the portraits that hang on these walls without apology and know that we have served Vermont with integrity, hard work, and a sense of constructive optimism as they did.
It is my hope that you will join me in this effort. It will take all of you and many more to accomplish these goals. I look forward to the campaign and to talking with Vermonters about the future.
Thank you for all of your support and I look forward to working together for Vermont’s future.