Matt Trieber resigns from Vermont House

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MONTPELIER — State Rep. Matt Trieber, D-Rockingham, has resigned his seat in the Vermont House of Representatives.

Trieber, 39, who has represented the six-town district since 2011, said his responsibilities as a youth counselor for disabled students served by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation made it impossible for him to continue his legislative duties.

Trieber said he would have had to ask for a leave of absence from his job at an important time in the students' academic lives as they prepare for graduation, so he decided to relinquish his legislative seat.

"I work as a counselor for high school students with disabilities. I take great pride in the on-the-ground work of interacting with my students and helping them to take steps to achieve their dreams," he told his fellow House members. "This year, when looking at how long service in this body would require being away from my students, essentially missing out on helping an entire class, I had to make the difficult decision to leave this body."

Trieber, who lives in Bellows Falls, said he started working for the state full-time last summer, and the state requires that while state employees can be elected to the Legislature and serve, they must take an unpaid leave of absence for the legislative session.

He said previously he was a part-time employee of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Springfield, which is an arm of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living.

Trieber is one of two Democrats that serve the towns of Rockingham, Grafton, Athens, Windham, Brookline, and a tiny slice of Westminster. The other representative is Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham.

Trieber said Wednesday that he announced his resignation from Windham-3 on the floor of the Vermont House Tuesday morning.

Trieber was appointed to the Vermont House by former Gov. Peter Shumlin, after Shumlin tapped longtime Rep. Michael Obuchowski, D-Rockingham, for his administration. Trieber went on to be re-elected four times, most recently in 2018.

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He said it was his appointment by former House Speaker Shap Smith to the House Human Services Committee that set him on his new career. Previously, Trieber was an environmental consultant, working on things such as oil spill cleanups. He said he majored in geology in college. "I know rocks," he said.

He said Smith appointed him to the Human Services Committee despite the fact that it was "his least favorite" choice for his committee assignment. He later was appointed to the powerful Appropriations Commission, and this term he was serving on the Judiciary Committee.

But he said the Human Services Committee work opened his eyes to the needs of people with disabilities. "I felt a real calling," he said. He now works with students at Springfield High School, the Kindle School, Leland & Gray Union High School, Black River High School in Ludlow, Bellows Falls Union High School and the Compass School in Westminster.

Leslie Goldman, who is chairwoman of the Rockingham Town Democratic Committee, said state statute requires that members of all the different town Democratic committees in Windham-3 meet and nominate up to three people to replace Trieber. The decision rests with Gov. Phil Scott. Governors usually make an appointment from the same party as the departing member.

Goldman said she is working with the state Democratic Party on the correct process.

Spencer Dole, House campaign director for the Vermont Democratic Party, said because the district includes five full towns and a slice of a sixth, they are working with the Vermont Secretary of State on the correct procedure for nominating Trieber's replacement.

He said once Trieber sets a final day to leave the House, the push will be on to select a replacement.

"We are still working with the Vermont secretary of state on how the selection process should be run," he said.

Trieber, who moved to Bellows Falls in 2005, said he will remain a Rockingham resident. He said his actual date of departure is being worked out with the the House leadership, but he expects it will take effect by the end of the week.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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