A Vermont activist fighting the Sanders fight at home

Matt Dunne is a lifelong Vermonter who grew up in the same Hartland farmhouse where he and his wife, the writer Sarah Stewart Taylor, are now raising their three children.

His parents were activists – for civil rights, for women’s rights, for human rights. Matt was raised to fight for justice and equity in our state and in our world, and has steadfastly pursued that goal since the early 90s, when he was first elected to the Vermont State House at age 22. 

He was the first candidate for governor to endorse Bernie Sanders for President, and he is leading Sanders’s fight for progressive principles here at home. Matt led the call for campaign finance reform, returning $16,000 of corporate contributions in March and pledging to accept no more. His two opponents in the primary race have since followed his lead. See his 8-point proposal on restoring ethics to our election process and state government here

Leader in empowering people out of poverty

After seven years of service in the House, Matt was tapped by President Clinton to lead the national service agency called AmeriCorps*VISTA.  Once dubbed the “domestic Peace Corps,” it is a 6,000-person agency that provides targeted programming to empower people out of poverty.

Job skills for the impoverished: Matt led VISTA’s vital work with Americans living in poverty by creating new literacy programs, computer technology centers, and entrepreneurship programs including micro-lending, so people could start their own businesses and strengthen their communities. Matt will create programming like this for Vermonters who are struggling.

Matt also streamlined operations, bringing all recruitment and assignments online, so members of VISTA’s vast corps could be matched quickly and strategically to the communities most in need of their particular skills. He’ll bring his internet and operations savvy to Montpelier, and finally fix the failed healthcare website so that Vermont can deliver on an essential human right: healthcare for all.

Protection for Vermont’s seniors: While serving as a state representative, Matt co-sponsored legislation that made it possible for elders to age in place, staying in their own homes rather than entering nursing homes, as Medicaid previously required. In the Senate, Matt fought to keep prescription drug prices down, and for better prescription coverage for seniors. He also fought to limit insurance premium increases for low income seniors.

In the House, Matt fought for retirees when Cone Blanchard suddenly axed their benefits.  Together with Peter Welch, then a lawyer, they challenged the legality of the action and won – the first in the country to do so.

As a Google executive for the last eight years, Matt oversaw the investment of millions of dollars in affordable housing nationwide. He worked closely with communities providing training and internet connectivity.

From his Google offices in White River Junction, Matt ran a free online safety class for seniors educating them about online scams and how to avoid them.

As governor, he’ll promote legislation to stop taxing seniors’ social security income. It’s time to fix this punitive tax on fixed incomes.

Economic justice advocate

The most powerful antidote to poverty is a growing economy in which all Vermonters have a part – and in which all Vermonters are fairly paid.

Raise the minimum wage: Many Vermonters work more than one job and still cannot pay all their bills. Matt has pledged to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 per hour. 

Equal pay and job protection for women: With more than half the Vermont population comprised of women, ⅔  of whom are in the workforce, and 25,000 Vermont households led by women, Matt believes we have a moral obligation to close the wage gap. Matt will fight for equal pay for equal work, and paid family leave so that no Vermonter ever again has to face the impossible choice of holding onto a job or caring for a newborn or loved one.

Vermont jobs innovator

Matt knows what it takes to grow a Vermont business because he’s done it.  Before being tapped for VISTA, he helped grow the Vermont software company Logic Associates to over 100 people. After VISTA he ran a successful consulting company in White River Junction, where he was first hired to do projects for the world’s largest tech company, Google.

Google’s lessons for Vermont: When Google wanted to hire Matt full time, he persuaded the computing giant to let him run the new office of Community Affairs, which he founded and led for the past 8 years, from the old Tip Top bread factory in White River Junction. His experience running a large department of a vast international company from right here in Vermont is proof that Vermont has what it takes to be a telecommuting hub – but only if we complete our high speed broadband infrastructure.

High Speed Internet, the electricity of our time: The world depends on high speed internet. Businesses need it to function; entrepreneurs need it to innovate; and our kids need it to be members of the modern age – and also to do their homework.

Vermont can’t compete without reliable, statewide high speed broadband – yet no governor of the last decade has delivered on the promise to deliver it to every last neighborhood of our state.

Matt is uniquely qualified to finish the job. At Google, he managed the roll-out of high speed internet in underserved rural and urban communities all across the entire U.S.  He’ll get the job done here.

Vermont legislative prowess

Matt served for seven years in the Vermont House. He became known for a pragmatic gift for lawmaking, writing key legislation that solved intractable problems.  

Toxic site rehab: The Land Recycling Act he wrote made it possible to clean up and re-use derelict and toxic factory sites. His intent was to protect our farm and forestland from unnecessary development; it made sense to re-use industrial sites that were already there. Today, former eyesores across the state have become engines of a new economy. 

Rail service rescue:  When Amtrak threatened to shut down service to Vermont, Matt led a coalition to fight back. As Vice Chair of the Transportation Committee, he not only helped persuade Amtrak to keep operating a Vermont train from D.C. to St Albans, he also got them to add new service from New York to Rutland. 

Craft brewery boom: When the state’s brewers approached him for help, Matt rewrote an outdated law that limited their creativity. Twenty years later, we have a craft beer boom and every year Vermont beers win prizes for best in the world.

A Vermont that works for all Vermonters

Matt is a pragmatic optimist who believes we have all the tools at our disposal to  build on our progressive ideals and stop the growing inequality in our state.  Arresting poverty and homelessness; correcting pay and workplace inequities; revitalizing the middle class and increasing job opportunities for all: these are the moral imperatives of our time.  Together, we can achieve our vital goals and an economy that works for all Vermonters.

To see how Matt will use his experience, leadership, and community values to create an economy that works for all Vermonters and all of Vermont, check out his issues page here