Two Republicans and two Democrats are vying for two seats in the Lamoille-Washington district in the Vermont House, which represents Morristown, Woodbury, Worcester, and Elmore. Out of four candidates, only one, incumbent Democrat Avram Patt, responded to our interview query. Outgoing incumbent, Democrat Dave Yacavone, has retired.
The other three candidates, Republican Nicole Loati, Republican Ben Olson, and Democrat Saudia Lamont, all said they were too busy to participate in The Bridge’s interview process.
Patt has served three terms in the Vermont House and been a central Vermont resident since 1970, living in Worcester since 1989. He served as the general manager of the Washington Electric Co-op for over 16 years, “pioneering in energy efficiency and renewables,” he said. He also served in the appointed position of director of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity under three governors with oversight of community-based anti-poverty programs. He has served as a selectboard chair, and served on the boards of the Vermont Foodbank, Salvation Farms, the Vermont Community Development Board, among others.
What are your thoughts about Prop 5?
Avram Patt: As part of the four-year process of amending Vermont’s Constitution, I voted for Prop 5 twice as a state representative, in 1999 and 2022, and I will vote in favor again in November as a citizen. I support reproductive rights and feel this step is needed at this time, to protect both individuals as well as health care providers.
Are there ways you’d like to see Vermont’s gun laws changed?
AP: We have taken some steps to limit access for people who pose a real threat to themselves or others. We need to consider additional steps. It is appropriate to carefully consider further defining in statute what weapons are reasonable for people to own for purposes of hunting, sport, and personal protection. The majority of Vermonters support careful and thoughtful changes that I believe are consistent with constitutional language.
Do you see a solution in the legislature to make homeownership affordable to Vermonters?
AP: The escalation in real estate prices is not something Vermont can control on its own. But S.226, which passed this year, does do a lot: Supports first-generation homebuyers with down-payment assistance, facilitates new construction for middle-income homebuyers, supports repairs and improvements to manufactured homes, and a lot more. We need to commit to ongoing support of programs like these. And we need to address the serious problems faced by renters as well.
What’s the most important thing you can do as a state representative related to climate change?
AP: I was a member of the House committee that drafted the major climate change bills of the last two sessions: The Global Warming Solutions Act (2020) and the Clean Heat Standard (2022). We missed overriding the Governor’s veto of the latter by one vote, so I’ll work to pass a new bill. It’s the most effective way to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, to help Vermonters and energy businesses adapt and prosper.