MONTPELIER — Republican Rep. Job Tate of Mendon plans to resign his seat in the Vermont House in the near future in anticipation of being deployed with the United States Naval Construction Battalions.
Tate, 34, a reservist with the Seabees, was elected to the House in 2014 and is in the first year of his second two-year term. Tate declined to discuss the terms of his pending deployment Friday to protect his fellow battalion mates but confirmed his intention to resign because of it.
“As I’m preparing to leave, I think it sounds corny and cliche, but my affection for the people I represent has grown immensely. I’m really impressed with the people in my district — their resourcefulness, their sense of humor and also how frank they are and willing to demand change. It’s been an honor to be their voice in that regard,” he said.
Tate, who drills with his reserve unit in Schenectady, N.Y., is a heavy equipment operator and explosives specialist. His battalion is based out of Gulfport, Miss. The Seabees, an expeditionary force, handle construction and infrastructure needs for the U.S. Navy is usually hostile areas.
Tate made clear that he will not miss the State House, despite finding
“joy” in representing his district.
“I despise Montpelier, despise the city,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than driving past the ‘Welcome to Killington’ sign and being home.”
Tate said state government is controlled by “the cartel of the usual players” who are “creatures of government who can’t seem to be able to do anything else but spend other people’s money.”
Tate said he had hoped to work with “common sense people who just want to watch their tax dollars religiously” in the State House but found a difference environment in Montpelier.
“I’ve brought that same explosives ethic to Montpelier and I don’t regret it,” he said.
Once Tate resigns, Republican Gov. Phil Scott will appoint someone to complete the remainder of Tate’s term. At least three residents of the Rutland-Windsor 1 House district are interested and taking steps to be appointed.
Former Vermont Retail and Grocers Association President Jim Harrison, Green Mountain National Golf Course general manager and golf professional Dave Soucy and Killington Police Chief Whit Montgomery are all seeking the appointment.
Harrison, who lobbied on behalf of VRGA for nearly 30 years before retiring in December, said he would bring significant experience to the position.
“I’m at the stage in my life where I’ve now had a chance to step back from full-time employment and I would be honored to serve our district and to serve the state of Vermont as a state representative if selected. I think there’s three good candidates and I think all will serve the district well,” Harrison said.
The deployment for Tate is “especially difficult in that he has a young family,” Harrison said.
“It’s always, in some respects, sad when a legislator has to resign mid-term. Obviously, as a member of the district, I have a lot of admiration for Job. I have a lot of admiration for anyone who takes the time to serve their community and the state. It takes a lot of sacrifice,” he said.
Soucy said he has been making regular trips to the State House and building relationships with lawmakers since creating Vermont Golf Day about four years ago. He said he wants Scott to appoint him so he can help work on economic development issues.
“We need jobs. We need to make it possible for people to make a living here,” Soucy said. “I’ve had an interest in politics and have followed it fairly closely. When I learned that Job was going to be deployed and was going to be resigning I reached out to Job and let him know that I was interested.”
Montgomery could not immediately be reached for comment.
Because Tate is a Republican, the Rutland County Republican Committee will generate a list of three candidates for the governor to choose from.
Jason Gibbs, Scott’s chief of staff, said the administration received that list of candidates from the committee on Friday, which includes Harrison, Soucy and Montgomery. The governor will go through the proper process, including candidate interviews, to appoint a replacement, Gibbs said.
“We are aware that Rep. Tate is stepping down and we will utilize the traditional process to encourage the submission of names by the local committee. The governor will proceed as expeditiously as that process allows to appoint a replacement,” Gibbs said.
Disclosure: Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami is the partner of Vermont Retail and Grocers Association President Erin Sigrist.