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Candidate Conversations: Kevin Hoyt Runs For Governor

The Bennington Banner, Courtesy

Kevin Hoyt is a conservative gun rights activist running for governor as an independent candidate in the 2020 general election. He has been a vocal critic of Gov. Phil Scott's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 by shutting down sectors of Vermont's economy.Hoyt is running concurrently for a Bennington County Senate seat, and has previously campaigned as a  Republican for a House seat in Bennington's 2-1 district. He says he will prioritize addressing the opioid epidemic and limiting the powers of government. 

Vermonters may also recognize Hoyt's name fromhis interactions with former Bennington lawmaker Kiah Morris, who resigned in 2018 from the Vermont House of Representatives after facing persistent racist harassment. 

More from VPR: Breakdown In Bennington

Our guest is:

  •  Kevin Hoyt, independent candidate for governor

Broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Kevin Hoyt, and their interview below has been condensed and edited and fact-checked for clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb: You’re an independent candidate for governor. Describe your political views and your top three priorities for Vermont if elected.

Kevin Hoyt: [I'm a] born and raised Vermonter. I was born and raised right here in Bennington. My family has called these mountains home since the early 1600s.

I think the number one priority is the corruption within our current administration and government. On the policy level, I think opioids are our number one concern. I'd like to lead Vermont out of the opioid crisis with a whole bunch of economic growth and development. I think Vermont should be open right now and our economy should be thriving.

I'd like to ask you about that, actually, because you have been a vocal critic of Gov. Phil Scott's response to the coronavirus. You participated in an April lockdown protest in front of the Statehouse. I think you told VTDigger that you dispute whether the virus really constitutes a pandemic. I wonder if you do still feel that way.


What would you tell Vermonter's you would do if elected to address COVID-19?

Well, I don't think the numbers match. They don't match now and they never matched. The virus itself is a very real virus. But the fear of the hype and the close-down, the fallout, is so much worse.

More from VPR: ‘We’re Stretched’: Mental Health Providers On The Pandemic’s Toll

If you look at the amount of alcoholism and suicide and drug addiction, as we lose our businesses and homes, the situation's a lot worse. And if I was governor, we would be open. Our economy would be booming.

Kevin, let me ask you, though, would that low death percentage rate here in Vermont not be indicative of what Gov. Scott did, in shutting down the economy fairly early on, working?

No, absolutely not. Nope, you can look at other countries or other states where we've locked down, and the socialized distancing, the mask wearing, the shut-downs the lock-downs – the fallout is 10 times worse.

Now, I will go back to 2018, and the 187 people that died of the flu. Did we close down our businesses and schools for the flu? No, we didn't.

More from VPR: ‘My Mother Was My Best Friend’: Remembering A Life Lost To COVID-19

But, Mr. Hoyt, there's a vaccination for the flu. You know, you can get vaccinated against that.

I'm against, mandated vaccines.

That's fine. I didn't ask about that. But what I'm saying, is that there is no vaccine for the coronavirus right now. And more than 200,000 people in this country have died from it. It is a serious, serious medical problem.

The 200,000 is an inflated number. So you're giving false information...

No, sir, it's not an inflated number. It's the Centers for Disease Control

It's an inflated number. The 200,000 is an inflated number.

I'm sorry. I can't let you put that information out there.

It is an inflated number and there's lots of data. If people get away from mainstream media, you can actually find the truth out there.

More from NPR: U.S. Records Highest Number Of Coronavirus Cases In 1 Day Since Pandemic Began

And again, I want to take you back to the suicides, the drug addiction, the alcoholism and all the other things as we lose our homes, businesses and jobs.

Are you saying, sir, that those suicides and overdose deaths are all linked to the fact that the economy has been partially shut down?

I want you to look at the growth and absolutely, I'm saying that's a huge contributing factor.

You have evidence of this?

I think it's obvious.

No, sir, that's not evidence. That's you saying you think it's obvious. That's not evidence you just said you think it's obvious.

I think any reasonable person, anybody with the common sense party that's listening isn't believing your hype anymore. Masks do not protect you.

More from Brave Little State: Ask Bob: Your Last-Minute Pre-Election Questions

The health commissioner of Vermont and the infectious disease specialist that leads all of this, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is recommending wearing a mask. The Centers for Disease Control is asking people to wear a mask. And it's not to protect yourself. It's to protect others. And this been gone over, you know, over and over again.

If you compare it to other countries that haven't had masks, and again, where all this is leading to – not only lock down our country and kill our economy – but it's leading to mandated vaccines.

I, Kevin Hoyt, as a citizen of Vermont am not going to take a mandated vaccine.

There is no mandate to take a vaccine in Vermont. There is no vaccine. There's nothing to mandate.

And I'd love for you to give us some evidence saying that a mask protects anybody because there's nobody out there that's gonna say it. Are you telling me if I go out and wear a mask, I'm not gonna catch COVID?

That is not what I said. First of all, the mask is more for protecting other people than it is to protect you.

I haven't had a mask since this whole thing started, and I'm not about to wear one. It's not as deadly as they said.

More from NPR: Universal Mask Wearing Could Save Some 130,000 Lives In The U.S., Study Suggests

Alright. Well, we now know how you feel, very much, about COVID-19: You would open up the economy, you would not have any mask wearing. What precautions would you suggest that people take, since you did say that you believe the virus is real?

We should protect the vulnerable people.

And how do we do that, sir?

In that age group, how do we do that is we put protections in place. I'm not saying COVID is not real. You, and all the other media, and David Fauci – or Mr. Fauci – and the WHO and the CDC said we are going to have 2 million deaths in the United States.

More from NPR: Americans Are Dying In The Pandemic At Rates Far Higher Than In Other Countries

Well, sir, I really don't know where you're coming up with a lot of these proclamations.

From the CDC. From the WHO.

Yeah, but sir, the CDC in the WHO are the ones who are saying, 'Please wear a mask, please keep your distance.' And you're saying that's all false.

If you go back and look at what month they say what, they've switched back and forth.

Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Hoyt. Do you think that message, that we are being lied to, that the government is corrupt...


... That the media is corrupt…


Do you think that message will resonate with Vermonters enough for them to vote you as governor of the state?

Well, I'm hoping. Again, along with corruption, its policies. Again, my biggest thing is opioid policy and I'm pro marijuana, I'm pro-gun. So it's about beating the corruption and keeping our rights and liberties.

More from VPR: A Guide To Voting In Vermont For The 2020 General Election

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

A thin grey line.

VPR sought interviews with each of the independent candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. We were able to schedule interviews with Michael Devost (Independent, Governor), Charly Dickerson (Independent, Governor), Kevin Hoyt (Independent, Governor), Emily Peyton (Truth Matters, Governor) and Ralph Corbo (Banish The F35s, Lieutenant Governor). VPR was unable to coordinate interviews with Wayne Billado III (Independent, Governor & Lieutenant Governor) and Erynn Hazlett Whitney (Independent, Governor). Find our full coverage here.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
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