In this Sept 24, 2014 photo, Vermont Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano speaks during an interview with the The Associated Press in Montpelier, Vt. Feliciano said he thinks the policies of Gov. Peter Shumlin, especially the push for a single-payer health care system, are leading Vermont to ruin. He said he thinks he has a chance to win despite the challenge of being a third party candidate with little money. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
MONTPELIER, Vermont — Libertarian Dan Feliciano was a reluctant gubernatorial candidate, but now that he's in the race he's determined to offer alternatives to the policies of Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin — policies Feliciano feels are leading Vermont to ruin.
In interview with the Vermont staff of The Associated Press, Feliciano said he can win despite the challenge of being a third-party candidate with little money.
"The challenges that we face, and as I describe them and my solutions, I think, resonate with a lot of people," the 51-year-old business efficiency expert from Essex said. "I really think that this election is not about party, but more about principles."
And his principles are clear: He wants to stop Shumlin's march to a single-payer health care plan, cut spending, reduce taxes, implement a school voucher system and protect gun rights.
"People are tired, they're overtaxed, you know, property taxes are killing them and they don't see a future," Feliciano said.
Feliciano is on the November ballot as a Libertarian after he came less than 200 signatures short of getting his name onto the Republican primary ballot. A few weeks before the primary he launched a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination and won just under 15 percent of the vote.
Now Feliciano, who last week had $5,800 in his campaign bank account, and GOP nominee Scott Milne are taking on Shumlin, the incumbent who went into the general election cycle with more than $1 million in the bank.
During Shumlin's campaign kick-off earlier this month in Burlington, the incumbent paid as much attention to Feliciano has he did Milne.
A Monroe, New York, native, Feliciano is a high school dropout who joined the Navy at 17. It was there he first earned a GED diploma and then a regular high school diploma. He worked as an electronics technician in the Navy and a month before he got after six years, representatives of an electronics company visited his ship and offered him a job.
After he married a Montpelier native, he went to college full-time while working full-time, graduating when he was in his mid-20s.
Over the years he's worked helping improve business efficiency at a number of companies — including health insurance giant Cigna — government agencies and the Department of Defense.
He said he was driven into politics after a conversation with his wife last winter about the future in Vermont for their 16-year-old son, who is preparing to head off to college. Feliciano realized his son would likely never return after college because there aren't enough opportunities for him in Vermont.
"That was just a smack in the face," Feliciano said. "That just irked me to no end. My wife was like, 'the taxes are too high, everything is too expensive, it's not a good place for a kid to start and raise a family.'"
Feliciano said his background in health care management and finding efficiencies will make it possible for him to find the same types of savings in state government.
"This might be the right time for a man like me to come in and changes things and do something," he said.
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