Secretary of State Deb Markowitz played an unusual role in a column
that ran on Saturday’s opinion page of the Free Press. It seems she is collecting Vermonters’ ideas for how the state can save money.
The secretary of state oversees elections, professional regulations, state archives and the registration of corporations. The job does not specifically have anything to do with managing a state budget, other than the office’s own.
Ah, but Markowitz is considering running for governor, and that job has a lot to do with managing state budgets.
So Markowitz quotes conservative Vermonter John McLaughry and tries to carve out a role for herself in solving this fiscal crisis.
What’s odd about Markowitz’s column is the line it straddles between her role as secretary of state and her role and her presumed role as a candidate for governor.
She speaks of changes her office made to eliminate the microfilm department, what with microfilm being passe. That is certainly a secretary of state function. Markowitz said she wanted to tell that story to the public.
Then she asks Vermonters to send her ideas for cutting state programs or delivering services more efficiently by sending comments to her at the Secretary of State's Office, though it does not seem like a prime secretary of state function. Markowitz argued, however, that it’s not inconsistent with the role of a state leader to ask such questions.
What is she going to do with the ideas? Share them with agency heads and legislators, she said. And probably hope that people remembered she asked even if they can't remember why.
- Terri Hallenbeck