by Mara Brooks
MONTPELIER – The Community of Vermont Elders (COVE) will host a live panel discussion with Caledonia and Washington counties senate candidates on October 15, from 7 to 9 pm.
The event, to be broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live, will explore candidates’ positions on a variety of issues affecting older Vermonters, including affordable housing, healthcare, age discrimination, and poverty. The event is open to the public, but those wishing to participate in the chat discussion must preregister.
“Candidates will be given time to respond to questions from audience members on how they plan to support older adults in our state,” COVE Program Director Marichel Vaught said.
COVE Executive Director Ruby Baker will serve as moderator for the event. Confirmed participants include Joe Benning, Matthew Choate, J.T. Dodge, Charles W. Wilson, Ann Cummings, Andrew Perchlik, Dwayne Tucker, and Paul Vallerand.
The discussion’s Q&A format is intended to provide older Vermonters an opportunity to question candidates on specific, age-related issues, Baker said.
“Without a conduit to talk with our representatives, most people tend to vote along party lines,” she said. “But when we get right down to brass tacks, we all want to support candidates who share our views and who will do certain things in the legislature, regardless of party.”
COVE, a nonprofit advocacy group that serves older Vermonters, encourages older citizens to stay politically active. The group’s “Grow bOLD” program introduced members to the legislative process through guided, weekly trips to the State House, where they learned to take part in policymaking.
“Twenty five percent of Vermonters will be over 65 (years old) by 2030,” Vaught said. “This discussion is a chance to hear what the candidates view as the most important issues facing older Vermonters and how each of them plans to resolve those issues.”
Baker said direct discussion between citizens and candidates helps support a democratic process and puts a human face on policy issues.
“When you share your concerns, experiences, and hopes, and demand your candidates acknowledge and respond, you build human connection,” Baker said. “And building human connection is how you change the world.”
Register for the Caledonia and Washington Counties Panel Discussion at: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApcOmqqz4oHtC7YwmSlTFgGvh7sqzFb2y3
Help is available for accessing and navigating Zoom. To set up a one-on-one help session, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 595-9872 (leave a message if there is no answer).