Sammis hopes to represent new district

On Nov. 8, the newly designated district of Castleton (Rutland-3) will elect its representative to the Vermont State Legislature. Running for the position is Republication candidate and Castleton University alum Jarrod Sammis, opposed to Democratic candidate, Mary Droege. 

Jarrod Sammis graduated in 2013 from Castleton State College with a major in communications, a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science. His time at Castleton encouraged him to “look at the whole picture, look at both sides of the story, and collect all the information” before assessing a situation. 

Although he has a long history and concern with Castleton, he hopes to use his platform to understand and solve issues state-wide.  

“It’s important to understand Castleton’s issues,” Sammis said. “(And) also understand that we’re not just representing Castleton, we’re going to be representing the entire state and making decisions that reflect the entire state.” 

One area he plans to improve is the future of Vermont’s population and economy. 

“The state of Vermont has one of the highest average age populations in the entire country right now, with a population of roughly 625,000 people,” Sammis said. “The average age of an adult in Vermont is 47…and with that we have issues.” 

He explained that those of the younger population, such as college graduates, struggle finding affordable housing, childcare and elderly care for loved ones, all of which create a “tangent of issues” that make living in Vermont unfeasible. 

“One of my goals is to try to fix that issue so that it makes (it) more appealing for younger people to want to stay in Vermont, to invest in Vermont, to find jobs in Vermont, to have homes, to have families (and) to grow and invest here.” Sammis said.

This extends to the protection of Vermont education, which he aims to do by “making the funding for the Vermont education system its own separate budget to protect it from being siphoned from other programs,” and encouraging the state to re-evaluate funds elsewhere. 

Sammis is also concerned with substance abuse prevention and mental health, catalyzed by his experience of a classmate who committed suicide in college. 

“His name was Brian,” Sammis said. “One day I came back (to class) and Brian wasn’t there…and there were no real resources at the time that could’ve helped him.” 

He hopes to establish “Brian’s Law,” which would require “every Vermont state campus to have at least two full time mental health representatives available on campus when there’s a full-time population,” Sammis detailed. 

Sammis has also worked to address substance abuse, another leading cause of death in Vermont, beginning with his volunteer work for Castleton’s Safe Ride Program during his undergraduate career. He later worked with the Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County and the Essex County Heroin Prevention Task Force, stating they were “quite successful, (bringing) attention to a very complex and sensitive issue that, in rural areas, is many times misinterpreted.” 

The final area of focus he is concerned about is the preservation of civil liberties. Although he is categorized as a Republican, he said he more closely identifies as a Libertarian. 

“Libertarians are more liberty-oriented,” Sammis said. “We want to make sure they have control over their own lives, control of their own bodies, we want people to have their own autonomy.”

He shared that he was “an early advocate” for the LGBTQ community, which was attested to by former classmate Serena Foley, who is part of the transgender community. 

“He was just as accepting of me before transitioning as after,” Foley said. “(He is) the kind of person who does the right thing even when nobody’s around to notice.” 

Sammis believes that next to education, “the relationships are the most important thing,” and continues to emphasize relationship-building in his own life. 

He is committed to his family’s multi-generational real estate business, Century 21, where he works full-time as a realtor, and takes every opportunity to connect with people in Castleton and surrounding communities. 

CU alumni, Lucas Hall, who has known and worked with Sammis both during and after their undergraduate careers, summarized why he is voting Sammis for Representative. 

“I believe he is the choice for Castleton because you need someone who isn’t going to succumb to outside pressures,” Hall said. “In the 10 plus years I have known him, he has not changed in the way he does things because ‘it’s not the popular option.’ He stands up for the rights of the people and has community at heart.”

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