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Dick Mazza resigns from Vermont Senate, citing health reasons

A man smiles while speaking to a woman with dark hair. Another woman stands behind him.
Angela Evancie
Vermont Public file
Sen. Dick Mazza, pictured here on January 4, 2017, with Caledonia Sen. Jane Kitchel on left, has served more than 40 years in the Vermont Statehouse.

The longest-serving member of the Vermont Senate has resigned from his post after serving for more than 40 years in the Statehouse.

Grand Isle Sen. Dick Mazza, a Democrat, submitted a formal letter of resignation to Gov. Phil Scott on Monday, citing “health” as the reason for his departure.

Mazza, 84, said his 42 years of service in Montpelier — he served briefly in the House of Representatives before joining the Senate in 1985 — has been the “privilege of a lifetime.”

“For more than 40 years, the moments spent in the Vermont [Statehouse] have been exceptionally gratifying and rewarding,” Mazza wrote. “And many of the people in it have become lifelong friends.”

Scott said in a press release that Mazza, owner of Dick Mazza’s General Store in Colchester, is known as “the Conscience of the Senate.” And he said the chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation is one of the most effective lawmakers ever to have served in Montpelier.

“It would be difficult to find a Vermonter who has been more impactful, committed or dedicated to public service over the past four decades than Sen. Dick Mazza,” Scott said.

Mazza is a longtime member of the Vermont Committee on Committees, a powerful three-person panel that determines committee assignments for the body. He’s regarded as one of the most influential powerbrokers in Vermont politics.

“There’s a popular misconception that Vermont is run out of the fifth-floor governor’s office in Montpelier, when in reality, it’s run out of the deli section of Mazza’s store,” then-Congressman Peter Welch told Seven Days in 2011.

Scott, a former Washington County senator, said he and Mazza forged a close bond when they served together on the transportation committee.

“When I was first elected to the state Senate 24 years ago, one person, Sen. Mazza, immediately took me under his wing,” Scott said. “It didn’t matter that I was a Republican and he was a Democrat. He put his faith and trust in me, as I did with him. He hasn’t left my side in the two decades since.”

VTDigger reported in February that Mazza has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Mazza said in his resignation letter that he is now “unable to provide the quality of service and dedication I have always given to my constituents.”

“Having dedicated representation has always been one of my top priorities, and I believe the people I serve deserve someone who can provide their full attention to this critical position,” he wrote.

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The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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