Republican Cindy Laskevich, 58, is challenging Democrat incumbent Rep. Mary Howard for the Rut-6 House seat, Nov. 8.
Incumbent Mary Howard, Democrat
Howard has lived in Rutland County for more than 40 years. She was elected to office in 2016 after serving as state’s attorney for Rutland county. Attempts to reach Howard were unsuccessful.
Q&A with Cindy Laskevich, Republican
Laskevich, 58, ran unsuccessfully for the Rutland City Board of School Commissioners in March.
Mountain Times: Why are you running for a House seat?
Cindy Laskevich: During the school board races earlier this year, I saw large political groups drowning out the voices of the residents of Rutland, which has resulted in issues not supported by the community taking center stage, while our schools continue to struggle. I also found that our local legislator has been simply voting according to party directives and not defending the community from poorly managed state emergency housing plans that have caused direct harm to Rutland City. The community of Rutland deserves to be heard, to have their needs as first priority, to know that their legislator will vigorously advocate for their best interests. When big political money and party loyalty determine the legislative priorities, the needs of the community are left behind. So when I was asked by a life-long Rutland resident if I would consider running for this seat, I realized I would very much like to be the voice in Montpelier for my neighbors, not a party, not a well-funded political group.
MT: What do you think are the three biggest issues facing your district?
CL: A vote is the beginning of an agreement between the voter and the candidate. The voter rightly expects that an elected official will act on behalf of their constituents. So as I visit my neighbors around town, as a candidate, and ask them what they feel are the biggest issues, invariably they speak about rising prices, especially for heating oil, our failing education system and public safety. I see those things as top priorities, as expressed directly by the residents of Rutland.
MT: The housing crisis is hitting Vermont hard. How can we combat this issue?
CL: When I speak of bringing a balanced approach to Montpelier, it’s problems such as the housing crisis that would really benefit from careful revisions to regulations and incentives. A more balanced approach to rental regulations and enforcement will help to incentivize new and existing landlords to expand their number of rental units. When a community and builders are working together to renovate existing housing or create new housing, their efforts should not be hamstrung by a complicated web of restrictions and permitting. The products of legislation from Montpelier should guide the process, but not become a series of insurmountable “stop signs”.
MT: Many employers are struggling to find workers. What do you think some solutions are?
CL: This problem goes hand in hand with the housing crisis, as well as the struggles of our schools. While great schools will attract families, struggling schools can drive them away, so that’s an issue to address. Further, prospective employees who encounter an impossible housing market cannot accept positions when they cannot find housing. As a community we have to build a complete package that incentivizes relocation to Rutland City. We have to clearly identify and address the issues that limit the number of available workers in our community. If we resolve the barriers to relocation and residence, there are already many wonderful things about Rutland City that will bring more people to our community, thereby building the workforce.
MT: Why are so many parents struggling to find daycare? What can be done?
CL: I believe that with so many families in which both partnered parents and single parents must work outside of the home, our standards for our communities must require a more comprehensive program for developing and supporting quality child care, with appropriate financial support. Finding the right daycare fit isn’t always easy and it’s not acceptable that finding an opening can be such a challenge, so this inadequacy in the market that families encounter must be corrected.Daycare providers are entrusted with the most precious people in our world — our babies. Working parents should never have to choose between quality and price. Having had five children of my own, I know those early years are crucial. I believe daycare operations should receive support in a manner comparable to school funding processes so providers have the resources to meet the needs of the children under their care while also being able to have their own remuneration package that makes childcare an attractive career choice.
MT: What’s your opinion on the proposed reproductive liberty amendment?
CL: I do not support the amendment as written because the language of it is a real danger to parental rights. The language is so deliberately vague that it leaves our children vulnerable to people outside of the family who could use this amendment to override parents, who are by far the best protectors of their children. It further invites the government to have a direct role in reproductive health care when they feel they have a “compelling State interest”. If it was simply about a woman’s right to choose…it would say that, but it does not. Instead it makes broad and vague statements that are ripe for unintended consequences for Vermonters.