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Candidate Conversations: Michael A. Devost Runs For Governor

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Michael Devost, Courtesy
Michael Devost is an Independent running for governor of Vermont. He appeared in an interview on Vermont PBS, and spoke with Bob Kinzel on VPR.

Michael Devost is a Newport City-based independent candidate for governor. He works as a housekeeper, and is concerned that the Scott Administration has overstated the dangers of COVID-19.Devost supports raising the minimum wage and said he wants to address what he says is a pervasive lack of affordability facing Vermonters, especially those living outside of Chittenden County.

Our guest is:

  • Michael A. Devost, Independent candidate for governor

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

VPR’s Bob Kinzel spoke with Michael A. Devost, and their interview below has been fact-checked, condensed and edited for clarity.

Michael A. Devost: What really motivated me to run was the fact that I've lived in Vermont my whole life, way up north. One of the things that made me really want to run this year was the fact that I see so much, especially in my area and traveling in all the small rural areas, how much it's been, like, forgotten and or neglected through, like, politics over the years. And also the fact that I'm really tired of misinformation and people lying to the people.

I just feel like now's the time to try to at least get my voice heard out there to say, you know, enough's enough.

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Bob Kinzel: Well, you talk about the Northeast Kingdom being forgotten. Do you think the state places too much of an emphasis, for instance, on Chittenden County?

I really think a lot of the politics that we have in office currently, that they do focus more on like Chittenden, Burlington - you know, like all these other big areas. Just to give a perfect example, we have, like, roads where they're not even painted and signs that are faded, you know? And it's like, some of these roads haven't been touched for at least 10 years.

You also mentioned telling the truth. What did you mean by that?

I think there are some things that are really misinformation because like, I don't know, like just when I've been talking to him, I can tell it's different from what he's telling the people and [how] some of the media outlets - not just in Vermont, but like all over the world - are portraying it. So it's kind of like: Who's telling what, you know?

A perfect example of this is in 2002, America had SARS. Well, according to the CDC, SARS's worse than COVID. And we didn't do some of the stuff we did now. And I get we don't have a vaccine yet, but it's like we really need to inform people [with] real information, you know?

More from Vermont Edition: Vermont Election Experts Answer Your Voting Questions

In your opinion, has Gov. Scott been too protective in closing down the Vermont economy?

I don't want to say he did a horrible job, but I feel there's certain things that could have been better. So I don't think he did a total bad job, but there's definitely some things, like the state of emergency that he keeps extending.

That has hurt especially my area quite a bit, because we don't have, like hardly any businesses open. My job, I lost it because it was due to tourists and everything. So it's like: I get you want to protect people, but I think there could have been other ways to do it.

You know, Michael, if the governor was here right now, he might point to any number of other states that have really relaxed their rules and regulations and they're starting to see a second surge. So what would you say to him under those circumstances?

Well, like I said, there's some things I think could have been better, and there's some things I think that he did really good.

Definitely, in seeing other states relaxing, I can see where some of them have gone really horrible. Because if you really think about it, and this is nothing to bash him or anybody else, but it even goes with our president, you know, we had something that a lot of people weren't common with. So me personally, I feel like I can't totally bash him because who's to say someone else could have done better or worse? Because there's something that we just got thrown at, you know? So I think for some of the things he did really good.

But I think the best way to put it is, with jobs, I think it would have been better if it was slowly, gradually shut down, instead of all at once, like a light switch. You know: to figure out the facts and then go from there, type thing.

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"...Most of the people I graduated with are no longer in Vermont. I've seen a lot of people leave. The cost of living is just way too much compared to the minimum wage." - Michael A. Devost, candidate for governor

Michael, on a different subject, some people feel that Vermont is not an affordable place for many people to live anymore. Would you agree with that?

I would agree because most of the people I graduated with are no longer in Vermont. I've seen a lot of people leave. The cost of living is just way too much compared to the minimum wage. And it's pretty sad. Like, you know, whether you have two jobs and you're a family doing it, or a single person doing two or three [jobs], you struggle, and it's hard.

Would you support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a four- or five-year period?

I agree. Yes. Because I think we need to raise it a little bit, to at least get a little more modern. And if we can't raise it for whatever reason, or because certain lawmakers or whatever doesn't want to vote for it, then I think we need to really lower some taxes or get rid of some non-necessary taxes, like the soda tax and stuff, to try to even out the balance.

If you could accomplish one major goal in your first year in office as governor, what would it be?

Well, that's a really good one. If I could accomplish one thing, honestly, it would be to try to unite everybody again that have fallen divided from a lot of the stuff since the pandemic, and also to really try to help create more jobs and better pay for everybody. Because honestly, without Vermonters in general, there is really no Vermont.

That's why I said way back that my area has been, like, neglected or forgotten because so many people in power, way back from Howard Dean to now, it's like, there really hasn't been anybody looking out for the little guys. So I would want really these small communities that have been forgotten to really have a voice and really be, 'Hey, you know, let's work together to try to make these communities stronger.'

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

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet reporter Bob Kinzel @VPRKinzel.

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

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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.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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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