UVM Senior Lecturer Thomas Chittenden runs for Vermont State Senate

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Courtesy photo of Thomas Chittenden

Four years after initially thinking of running for the Vermont State Senate, South Burlington City Councilor Thomas Chittenden feels ready to make a bid for the Chittenden County Senate Seat. 

In the race for state senate, Chittenden and 13 other Democratic candidates will be on the ballot for the democratic primary which occurs on August 11. Chittenden is also running against two Republican candidates.

Chittenden is descended from the brother of the man who the county is named after – Thomas Chittenden, the first Governor of Vermont. 

Though this fact is not the main pull of his campaign. Chittenden said that he wanted to be able to show voters what he has achieved when running and that he didn’t feel ready four years ago. 

“I decided I didn’t want to run on just name recognition,” he said. “I want to run because I think I can be effective and because I can show voters that I have a proven track record of leadership and applicable skills.” 

Some of those leadership positions include the President of both the UVM Faculty Senate and a Senior Lecturer in the Grossman School of Business. 

“It’s gotten me more comfortable with complex, challenging conversations, charged conversations,” he said. “It’s conditioned me to feel comfortable in challenging circumstances where I think I can be effective in the statehouse.” 

Just like all candidates, Chittenden says he has had a challenge campaigning during this pandemic. 

“I was planning this summer instead of engaging in some of my consulting work to just walk and knock on every door in Chittenden County,” he said. “I was gonna buy yard signs and knock on every door, but people don’t want me knocking on doors.” 

Instead, he is doing a lot of outreach, including emailing, phone and Zoom calls. 

Chittenden is also trying to connect with voters in a socially distanced way, going to the Church Street Tavern every week to hand out masks and talk to potential voters. 

“If people want to see me, look me in the eye, they can come down to Church Street in a safe and socially distant way,” he said. 

As for why he is running for the position, Chittenden said that there needs to be more investment in the people of Vermont. 

“I don’t see enough of our elected leaders in Vermont advocating for policies that expand opportunity investment in people in our state,” he said. 

Chittenden said that Vermont’s population is shrinking for the first time in the state’s history and that there should be efforts taken to grow the population along with keeping people in Vermont. 

A focus of Chittenden’s campaign is affordability, especially with housing. 

“I want to see permit reform change so that it welcomes and invites more investment to upgrade the quality of our housing stock,” he said. 

Chittenden said that another issue he is passionate about is the environment, and how transportation is a big part of the climate crisis. 

A way to help with the climate crisis is to implicate a toll by plate system, which would have an effect on reducing climate emissions. 

“It’s a camera that you put up and you capture the license plate,” he said. “And this is not all over the state, this would be for certain segments, strategic segments, maybe like long hauls.” 

Chittenden said that if you send a bill once a quarter or once a year to people who pass through the state, there are a lot of benefits, including income sensitizing it, which means people who make less pay less in property taxes. 

“With a toll by plate system, we could do the same so that we won’t hurt or penalize the most vulnerable of us,” he said. 

That way, those drivers who can afford to use the roads will have to pay for the roads that they are driving on. 

Never having run for a position this big, Chittenden said that he feels he is ready to serve in the Statehouse. 

“I have yet to be surprised [with the campaign] but ask me in a month or so because I think the election is going to start heating up,” he said.