Republican Chris Mattos, a life-long Milton resident and University of Vermont graduate, is seeking re-election in Chittenden 10.
In 2017, Mattos was appointed to the Vermont House of Representatives by Gov. Phil Scott in order to fill the seat of former Rep. Ron Hubert. He is now running for a second term.
As a real estate agent and financial specialist, Mattos has worked first hand with people looking for affordable housing.
“Here in Milton especially, housing prices have gone through the roof,” he said.
Mattos is interested in attracting more young people to the state. All of his friends from Milton High School, left Vermont after graduation, he said, because the cost of living is too high.
Last week, Mattos spoke with the Independent over the phone. His responses have been edited for length. See italicized Editor’s Notes for more context and links for fact-checks.
The legislature this session took some steps to address concerns about use of excessive force by police and the inequities in how often people of color are subjected to motor vehicle stops and criminal charges. Do you think those actions were sufficient or is there more to be done?
We did pass three bills to get us started. One local thing that I think is great is in Milton we’re creating this Police Advisory Committee that’s going to advise the police and discuss racial equity issues, use of force, mental health responses and technology
With this Police Advisory Committee, I think Milton is really taking a huge step forward in getting ahead of the curve and not having to rely on Montpelier to kind of dictate what they should do.
With the bills we did pass, two of them relate to police reform and one to corrections, are a step in the right direction to keep the public safe and also keep the police safe at the same time.
What should legislators do to address the impact of COVID-19 on low-income Vermonters?
I know a lot of residents in town had some issues filing for unemployment. I volunteered to be part of the legislative action team that helped people across the state get into the system. That was a big, big time commitment, but I think it helped out.
We’ve got to keep the people going that are out of work right now, otherwise we’re going to fall further behind.
I’m a big proponent of technical schools and adult learning centers that provide the experience necessary for folks to go out and get a certificate and maybe get into one of the trade professions. Those are great paying jobs, and luckily there is still a lot of demand even with COVID-19.
It’s important that we continue down the path of being able to give people the tools necessary to go out there and earn a livable wage.
Economists are expecting Vermont to face shortfalls when it is time to prepare the fiscal year 2022 budget, especially the Education Fund. How should the state address that loss?
We can’t just rely on increasing the property tax to be able to cover that shortfall. I’m hoping at the federal level, we can get monies that will help supplement the loss in revenue.
I know U.S. Rep. Peter Welch. I’ve had talks with him, and he’s very responsive. He’s been a big advocate for getting monies to come back to Vermont so the legislature can then divy that money out in a way that reflects the federal guidelines.
Luckily, the federal money we’ve received so far can be used for COVID-related expenses in the schools right now. I know it’s been a big burden not just here in Milton, but across the state, to add additional measures to keep staff and students safe.
So I’m hoping we can get more federal money to help with the deficit, because I wouldn’t want to rely on property taxes to lift that burden. Before we got out of the legislature last week, it was projected they would increase about 8 cents per thousand on households, which is a big number. I am worried about that.
Scientists largely agree action is needed to delay the worst impacts of climate change. What actions, if any, do you feel the legislature should be taking to reduce Vermont’s share of carbon emissions and ready the state for the effects of a changing climate?
I couldn’t support the Global Warming Solutions Act because it gives power away to an unelected body (a 23-person Vermont Climate Council). I think we should be taking a regional approach within the state address to climate change.
Sixty percent of carbon emissions come from transportation. We need to create more incentives for people to buy electric vehicles and increase the number of charging stations available across the state.
Editor’s Note: Mattos said 60 percent of Vermont’s carbon emissions come from transportation. This is partly true. According to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s most recent report, transportation, though only 44.5 percent of emissions, is still the state’s largest carbon-producing sector.