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Candidate wants to keep the middle class in Vermont

Chris Moore, an eighth-generation Vermonter, makes second run for House

Chris Moore grew up in the same district he now hopes to serve.

“I feel compelled to effect change,” said Moore of his inspiration to run for state office.

Behind his candidacy is a deep caring for his community and the belief in civic duty, he said.

Moore, running as a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, and Rep. Matt Trieber, D-Bellows Falls, appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011, for one of two House seats in the newly redistricted Windham-3 district — now Athens, Brookline, Grafton, Rockingham, Windham, and part of Westminster — in the Aug. 28 Democratic Primary.

Moore said his community roots run deep.

“I’m an eighth-generation Vermonter,” he said.

Moore chose to remain in Rockingham because his law degree afforded him the opportunity to build a strong career. Moore practices law with his wife, Attorney Jennifer Moore, at their law firm Moore Law Offices, LLP in downtown Bellows Falls.

The father of three said that despite time spent living in Boston and Providence, he preferred to raise his children in Vermont.

“I have a certain Vermont pride,” said Moore. “It’s a stubbornness I have.”

The Moores chose maternity wards in Vermont because Chris Moore wanted his children to also be born in Vermont.

Return to vibrancy

Moore said the Windham-3 district has lost its “vibrancy.” He points to an export of talent, the loss of young people, and a diminishing middle class as contributing to the district’s tarnish.

The result, at least for Bellows Falls, he said, is that the town has two classes. On one end of the spectrum, people live on state subsidies; on the other, trust-funders.

“The businesses leave, then the jobs leave, and the people leave with them,” Moore said.

He said that reversing this trend would result in more businesses, more jobs, and more people with money to feed back to local businesses.

Moore said that, if elected, he would work to institute a downtown program similar to the Vermont Downtown Program that pools resources like tax credits, grants, training, and technical services to assist downtown organizations revitalize historic downtowns.

Unfortunately, Moore said he has seen too many of the businesses helped through the publicly funded Downtown Program “come and go.”

Instead, Moore would like a program that injects private capital into existing and new businesses. He feels that pulling in private funds or entrepreneurs could sustain their investments.

He proposes exempting participating businesses from state sales and rooms and meals tax. This exemption would also help relieve pressure experience by many Connecticut River towns bordering “tax-free New Hampshire.”

Montpelier doesn’t effectively address the needs of Connecticut River towns, said Moore.

Moore, a volunteer basketball and football coach, would attempt to stem the tide of young people leaving the region by developing an incentive program to lessen student loan debt.

By providing young people with an income tax credit, he said, new graduates would have an incentive and better financial footing to stay in Vermont, launch their careers, and raise their families.

“It’s like a car payment that we don’t get to drive,” said Moore of student loans.

Moore’s statements echo his unsuccessful 2010 run for the House as an independent candidate. In a 2010 candidacy announcement, Moore spoke about the area losing its vibrancy and young people. He also wanted to bring more young people into the political process.

“The young Vermonter seeks job opportunities elsewhere. Those that can find a job can barely afford to live here,” he said in 2010. “This has become a district of the very rich and the very poor. They coexist peacefully in this area because neither of them need jobs to survive.”

Moore looks at his 2010 run as “a good opportunity to get my voice out there” and as training for a second try.

A good fit

When asked why he switched from running as an independent candidate to Democrat, Moore answered with a slight laugh, “Independents are not very organized.”

In seriousness, he said he changed his status after members of the Windham County Democratic Committee approached him. According to Moore, the committee members said he would be a “strong candidate,” and pledged to back him.

He said their conversations persuaded him that the Democrats and he would be a good fit.

Other Democrats, however, have described Moore as a Republican in Democrat’s clothing trying to get elected in a largely Democratic district.

“I’ve never registered as a Republican,” said Moore. “I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-gay marriage, and I’m pro-decriminalization of marijuana — you know, at least small amounts. You will not find those on any Republican platform.”

Not afraid to pull punches, Moore proceeded to question Trieber’s party credentials.

According to Moore, before Trieber lived in Vermont, Trieber had registered as a Republican in New York. He also took out a Republican ballot in March, which excluded him from attending the state Democratic convention.

Moore said he confronted Trieber with this information at the Windham County Democratic meeting in June.

According to Moore, Trieber fessed up.

In a follow-up email, Moore wrote, “To be clear, it is a matter of public record that he [Trieber] drew a Republican ballot in March of this year, which precluded him from representing the town Democratic caucus at the state convention this summer.”

“If he’s not Republican, it at least exposes some naiveté about his role as Democratic Statehouse Representative,” said Moore. “Also, I don’t think we would have ever heard about him being a registered Republican when he lived in New York unless I confronted him about it.”

Calls to Trieber to confirm Moore’s statements were not returned by press time.

Lawn signs

In preparation for the primary and, with his fingers crossed, the November election, Moore has arranged for other lawyers to cover his caseload while the Legislature is in session.

Montpelier is a full-time commitment, he said: “I do not intend to juggle.”

A letter of support arrived the same day of the interview from former Vermont Gov. Thomas Salmon.

“I’m proud as a peacock,” said Moore about receiving the letter.

In a later email he wrote, “Paul Kane, a former Democratic senate candidate, wrote a letter of endorsement to the paper. Josh Hearne, a current Rockingham Selectman, has written a letter of endorsement for me soon to hit the papers.”

“Please take a ride around Bellows Falls tomorrow, and you will see dozens of lawns decorated with my signs (none of which are family members’ property),” he wrote.

According to his 2010 campaign website, Moore earned a bachelors of science in political science, a juris doctor degree, and a masters of law degree before returning to the district in 2000.

Moore has also served as chair of the Grafton Selectboard, vice president of the Greater Rockingham Area Endowment Trust, planning commissioner for the town of Westminster, and village trustee for North Westminster.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #164 (Wednesday, August 8, 2012).

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