Emily Who? Independent Candidate Steals the Show at Gubernatorial Forum (VIDEO)
Five Democrats and one secessionist all running for governor came to downtown Burlington this morning for a candidate forum on substance abuse. But it was a newly minted independent candidate, with a guitar-strumming sidekick, who stole the show.
Emily Peyton of Putney, one of five independent or minor party candidates on the ballot for November, made her debut appearance in northern Vermont during a two-hour debate at the Turning Point Center on Bank Street, a facility for substance abuse programs and group meetings.
Peyton, 51, a self-described "activist and a rebel" and mother of two, is making her first run for public office. She'll be making a "Magical Transformation Tour" across Vermont in a Winnebago this summer. (See her self-made introduction video above, taken from her website www.vermontforward.com)
She found about today's forum and was invited to join, she said. Peyton, who goes by Em, grew up in Princeton, New Jersey ("The same town as Albert Einstein!" she notes) and has lived in Vermont since 1994. She attended Marlboro College for two years but didn't graduate.
On her way inside Turning Point Center, she saw a guy named Randy (she didn't catch his last name) playing guitar and asked him to accompany her while she answered her first question to calm her nerves.
"I just heard him playing over the in corner and asked him to back me up," she said after the debate.
With her big curly locks, flowing green skirt and peasant blouse, Peyton certainly stood out from the gubernatorial crowd — even from the plaid-sporting Dennis Steele, who favors Vermont seceding from the union. Her answers (at least the first one) had a mellow, breezy soundtrack.
Today's forum was actually Peyton's second as a candidate since turning in her 500 petitions to get on the ballot last week. She joined the five Democrats — Senators Peter Shumlin, Doug Racine and Susan Bartlett; Google executive and former state senator Matt Dunne; and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz — in Manchester on Monday.
Her platform covers a lot of ground: Addressing prison overpopulation, "recycling wealth for Vermont," getting Vermont off the grid, growing a hemp industry in the state, and creating a Vermont common good bank owned and controlled by depositors.
Video from this morning's forum: