I was fortunate to be at the Vermont State Capitol in Montpelier, VT, today, Tuesday, September 8, 2009, when State Auditor, Tom Salmon announced that he was switching from the Democrat to Republican party. The Citizen Wells blog has posted a longer video coverage of the event and here is an article from Vermontbiz.com that provides more background information on Tom Salmon.
“Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon switches to Republican Party”
“Vermont Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon, who was rebuffed by the Democratic leadership last spring, announced today that he was switching parties and will join the Republican Party. Salmon won the position of state auditor as a Democrat in 2006 when he beat one-term incumbent Republican Randy Brock. That race saw Brock apparently win re-election in a very tight race, before a re-count gave the race to Salmon by 102 votes. Salmon cited the lack of fiscal responsibility among legislative leaders during the debate over the state budget. Salmon had offered to mediate discussions between Republican Governor James Douglas and the Democratically controlled Legislature, but was turned down by Speaker of the House Shap Smith. He said the Republicans are better able to manage the fiscal matters of the state, as represented by Governor Douglas.
Salmon further said he will likely run for re-election for Auditor, but there is “a 10 percent chance,” he will run for governor or lieutenant governor instead. Several Republicans are deferring their decisions on 2010 until Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie decides what, if any, position he will run for. Dubie has indicated he is considering a run for governor. Douglas has already stated he will not seek re-election and will not run for any office in 2010. Salmon made his announcement at the State House shortly after 11 am on Tuesday September 8, 2009.
Salmon, 46, has served in Iraq for long tours of duty in the US Navy Reserve while also holding the post of auditor. Thomas M Salmon is the son of the former Vermont Governor Thomas P Salmon, who served from 1973-1977 as a Democrat. The elder Salmon served as a surrogate during his son’s re-election campaign because serving military cannot also campaign for office. Salmon met little resistance in being re-elected last year.
“Vermont Business Magazine conducted a Q&A with Tom Salmon December 2007 with Robert Smith. In that interview he explained why he ran for auditor:
“I ran for state auditor, because as a Rockingham Selectman, I had moved from a simmer to a boil about how fiscal management was occurring in the state. I really didn’t think that anyone was taking responsibility for the fiscal management of the parts of the state. Prior to being a selectman, I go back to December 2005. I’m a Navy Reservist, a Seabee, construction battalion, dirt sailors – we’re never on a ship, so when people see us in our greens they say, ‘Look mommy, it’s an Army man!’ I was in Gulfport, Mississippi, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That situation moved me to want to commit to public service. I decided when I came home that I was going to run for the select board in Rockingham. The finances were a mess, the morale was not good, the divisive situation over buying the dam – you were here so you know.””
Here is a copy of the letter Salmon sent to his supporters:
“September 5, 2009
It is an honor to serve as Auditor for the State of Vermont. In 2006, I was elected as a Democrat. In 2008, I was re-elected on the Democratic/Republican ticket. 2010 will be different.
I am changing my political affiliation to align myself with the party closest to my core beliefs. It is my belief that the VT Republican party is closest to accepting the realities of our times; and is therefore the party best equipped to manage the very real and troubling economic and social conditions which confront us not only today, but in the coming decade.
As many of you know, in the face of the enormous fiscal crisis, I have sounded the alarm for new thinking, responsible budgeting, meaningful long-term planning and painful prioritization.
When I returned home from Iraq, I witnessed first-hand a budget process rife with deficiencies and dysfunction. There was little balance in the debate.
As a Certified Public Accountant, I recently completed my required Ethics course for re-licensing. The Professional Code of Conduct demands that I act with integrity, objectivity and independence. As Auditor, I have preached that Vermont is on an unsustainable track we cannot tax ourselves out of.
I believe the majority of Vermonters do not want to see tax increases as a consequence of poor planning. However, without major restructuring of human services, corrections management and public education (which together account for some 75% of our expenditures) we are going to find that situation unavoidable. Removing even greater sums of capital out of our job-creating private sector and the budgets of Vermont families will only hasten the ill effects of the current crisis.
We all watch a healthcare reform movement focused on increased access rather than A) addressing the root causes of the problem B) fixing Medicaid and Medicare or C) promoting incentives and personal responsibility. The big losers are our young people, the vulnerable elderly population and the viability of Vermont’s 1778 motto of “Freedom and Unity.”
I am a believer in the America of hard work and “get oneself upstream” with a combination of personal commitment and external support.
I’m not a believer that all of our future tax dollars should go to interest on debt or “education, medication and incarceration.” In the current form of these primarily government-controlled expenditures, this is a path leading to a dangerous imbalance of our “Freedom and Unity.” Economic freedom is an essential component in achieving and maintaining political freedom. Over the more than 200 years of our nation’s founding, too many of our fine soldiers have died for the protection of these freedoms.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you with full commitment and transparency. I promise to do my best to perform the job Vermonters have elected me to do.
Thomas M. Salmon CPA
Vermont State Auditor””