Vermont using old system to pick National Guard chief
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The four candidates vying to become the next adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard through an antiquated election system that some lawmakers want to end are promising to change the organization, including making it more welcoming for women.
The candidates vying for the job to lead the 3,600 men and women who are currently serving in the Vermont Army and Air National Guard have been working the halls of the Statehouse in Montpelier, seeking support from lawmakers who will elect the new leader in a secret ballot vote on Feb. 21.
Vermont is currently the only state in the country where the national guard chief is chosen by a secret vote of the Legislature. Now, all the others are chosen by the governor, said John Goheen, a spokesman for the National Guard Association of the United States, a private group that represents guard interests in Washington.
“Every state is a little bit different,” Goheen said.
While Vermont is the only state where the guard chief is chosen by the Legislature, for more than a century, South Carolina chose its adjutant general by a direct vote of the people, a process that is ending next week when Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston steps down.
After Livingston was first elected by a statewide vote in 2010, he pushed his state to change its constitution to have his successor chosen by the governor. He said he pushed for the change, approved by voters in 2014, because campaigning for adjutant general was hard since most people don’t understand the role. He also said he didn’t think it was right raising money to run a campaign to be a military leader.