County Courier Question August 5, 2020

Q: Given that Vermont is on track to be the state to best contain the coronavirus in the nation, do you agree with the response by the legislature thus far? Would you like to have seen a different response thus far? How would you like to see the legislature proceed in responding to the virus in the next biennium? 
This pandemic has changed the course of the legislature for the good, at least for the time being. When we shut down on March 13th and began to work remotely, us in the legislature put in many hours to help our fellow Vermonters. It was the first time as an elected official where I saw the legislative leadership willing to put partisan politics aside and work with Governor Phil Scott.
One thing that was very helpful to me and for my constituents was the ability for me to reach out to the Vermont Department of Labor on behalf of my constituents and place a claim on their unemployment. This allowed me to help hundreds of my fellow Vermonters receive their benefits in a timely manner. When there was a backlog, the legislature worked together to get more claims resolved. This was truly a great sight to see our state's leaders work together to help the people of Vermont like we were elected to do!
All of this bipartisan work was refreshing, but it did have a few issues in my opinion. I feel like Governor Phil Scott's proposal of $50 million to help farmers was adequate and I was upset when they cut that money down to $30 million. I was also upset that a majority of our elected officials decided to give themselves a pay raise next year while over 40,000 Vermonters were still out of work. We were also restricted on how we could spend most the federal funds and we were unable to help those who put their lives on the line as essential workers. I'm hoping more can be done going forward. 
I truly believe that Governor Phil Scott and his administration have done a great job keeping Vermont safe during this pandemic. It is a real testament to see what can be accomplished when the right people are in charge. The work isn't done and we'll be back on August 25th to continue our work.

County Courier Question July 27, 2020

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us about why you choose to run under the party label you've chosen, what you hope to accomplish if elected.

Response: 

My name is Casey Toof and I represent Franklin 3-1 in the House of Representatives. I am running for re-election to represent the people of St. Albans City and St. Albans Town. I personally like to wear a lot of different hats like representative, small business owner, vice-chair of the St. Albans Town Planning Commission, and coach, but the title I enjoy the most is dad. I have two young sons, Callan and Lukas, and they have inspired me to run for political office as I care about their future and what that future will look like.
I currently serve on the House Committee on Education where we have tackled a lot of different topics from ethnic studies in the classroom, lead testing in schools, and a bill I introduced that would expand an afterschool program to all Vermont schools. Since Covid-19 my focus has been on getting people back to work and getting kids safely back in schools. Covid has presented many tough situations for my constituents, but I have been able to help over 100 people and counting with their unemployment claims.
I am running as a Republican because I have worked for many years with Republicans across the state. I first worked with Governor Douglas and his re-election campaign, then with former State Senator Dustin Degree who now works in Governor Phil Scott's administration. I have also worked closely with Senators Corey Parent and Randy Brock. Representative Lynn Dickinson has also been a mentor to me these last couple of years. All of these elected officials reflect in one way or another my political belief of making Vermont more affordable and creating good, high paying jobs to our region. Since Covid-19 Governor Phil Scott's leadership and ability to keep Vermont safe has really shown me what can be accomplished if the right people are elected. 
Best,

Rep. Casey Toof
Franklin 3-1 St. Albans City & Town
caseytoof@gmail.com 

Reelection Announcement 2020

Dear Friends, 

Two years ago, I filed the necessary paperwork to become a candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives. In the following months, I made my way around our community knocking on thousands of doors and having important conversations with so many of you about the serious issues we face as a state and what a better future might look like for all of us.

Together, we were able to build a successful campaign focused on making Vermont more affordable, creating a sustainable economy, and expanding our workforce and working-age population to support growth and opportunity in Vermont.

These are the issues you sent me to Montpelier to address, and for the first portion of my term, combined with my work on the House Education Committee and working across the aisle as member of the Youth Caucus, were my main focus, while building relationships with my colleagues and maintaining a strong, working relationship with Governor Scott and his Administration.

However, in the early days of March it became clear we were facing a generational challenge as Covid-19 began to inch closer to Vermont. On March 13th the House gaveled out for the last time and since then we’ve been meeting remotely.

These are truly unprecedented and historic times.

In an instant our work went from working on the issues I campaigned on, to ensuring that the people of St. Albans had the very best information to protect themselves, their families, and our community from this new threat.

As new, federal relief began to roll out, it became clear that many would need help navigating relief programs that were often difficult to access – including many hours spent helping folks apply for and receive the Unemployment Insurance benefits they deserve.

I think that it’s easy for local legislators to overthink their roles and use their title as an opportunity to further national political agendas that often have little to do with the day-to-day struggles that our constituents deal with in their real lives.

These last couple months have been difficult and challenging, and what lies ahead promises a level of uncertainty that is unprecedented to many of us.

However, it has been my honor to dig in, and serve our people in a way that I never imagined just a few short months ago. After all, St. Albans is where I learned the value of community, of our neighbors and the importance of taking care of one another. It’s what led me to return here after college, and to seek the opportunity to serve the place and people that instilled those values in me.

I love St. Albans, and over the last 18 months, through incredibly difficult times, it has been an honor to serve as your representative. 

Today, I’m announcing that I’m running for reelection.

More than ever, St. Albans needs leaders who won’t shy away from hard work, that recognize serving the community is more important than serving a political agenda, and who will always put our people and this place first.

With your support, I’ll continue to do my best, to be that leader.

 

Best, 


Casey


Affordability

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the tenth question: Affordability has become a buzz word in Vermont politics, with a suggestion that either a high cost of living, high taxes or both make Vermont unaffordable, driving out young families and those on fixed incomes. Do you think this is an accurate view? Would you define affordability differently?

 

Affordability isn’t just a buzz word, it’s the crux of the crisis facing our state today. I’ve been to over 3000 doors and the overwhelming majority have told me that not only is Vermont unaffordable, but a lot of people are looking to leave whether it is next year, 5 years, or 10 years from now. This is very concerning to me and anyone who says affordability is just a buzz word is out of touch with the reality that Vermont is too expensive.

The legislature over the past eight years under a single party rule have continued to raise our property taxes, the gas tax, and have continued to grow government spending every year. It’s time for our representation in Montpelier to start listening to Vermonters. This state is facing an affordability crisis and we need leaders who listen and who will work to get it under control.   

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Child Care

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the ninth question: Last year, Vermont's Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care found that almost half of Vermont's infants and toddlers with working parents are not in a regulated child care program either in a center or at home. What, if anything, should the state do to address the gap between available child care slots and need?

 

As the father of two young children, child care is an issue that really hits home with me. Over the last few legislative sessions we’ve seen the legislature implement laws that have closed many home day care providers. This has forced families like mine struggle to find quality, affordable childcare. My wife and I drive to Highgate for day care every day,  because we’re unable  to find openings closer to home.

Policies like, a carbon tax would force families to reevaluate our current day care situation.

We need to look at regulations imposed by the state which closed child care providers and allow people to make a reasonable decision on where they want to send their children. We love our day care provider, but finding something closer and cheaper would be easier on our family.

It’s time to stop over regulating and taxing in Montpelier and make Vermont more affordable. 

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Act 46

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the eighth question:  The period for voluntary mergers under Act 46 is coming to a close, and some communities facing a mandated merger of their school district are deeply unhappy. Should the state continue on the course it set when Act 46 passed, particularly since districts across the state merged voluntarily under the rules established with Act 46, or should changes be made to accommodate those who are unhappy over potential district mergers?

 

Act 46 was an attempt by the legislature to address rising property taxes across Vermont by merging school districts.  First voluntarily with a tax incentive and then what we are now seeing playout through forced mergers.  What most people don't talk about is that Act 46 initially had a spending threshold which would have penalized high spending districts which were removed by the legislature less than a year after its original passage.  Meaning Act 46 as it stands today has zero cost containment mechanisms in it.  

Without cost containment, there is no real reason to continue to pursue the ends of Act 46.  What are they trying to address through forced mergers?  If the Vermont legislature wanted to get serious about any type of consolidation in our education system, we should discuss supervisory unions.  I do not believe there is a need for 65 superintendents in Vermont. 

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Gun Laws & S.55

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the sixth question: Do you believe the gun laws passed by the legislature this past session need to be reversed, will work just as they are, or that additional measures are required?

 

The recent gun legislation that was passed earlier this year, most notably S.55, did not accomplish the goals they originally set out to achieve. The bill was in response to a school threat in Fair Haven but did not protect our schools. I would have not supported or voted for S.55 because the law didn’t address school safety or mental health.

The bigger issue we have as a nation today is school safety. As the father of two young children I do get worried about my boys attending school in the next few years. School safety along with better and easier access to mental health should be our goal. I’ve seen schools around Franklin County get funds to improve their safety and I think that is a good start. Going forward I would support measures to improve safety in our schools.

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Letter to the Editor

In less than 30 days the people of St. Albans will be able to request an absentee ballot or walk into City Hall or Town Hall to cast their votes for their next State Representative.  This election is the first time in a generation that the people of this district have two open seats and a clean slate to choose the direction they want to see State Government go.  And, the difference could not be more clear.  

As I go door to door listening to the concerns of my friends and neighbors, I hear one common theme: Vermont has an affordability crisis. Property taxes are high and climbing higher.  If it isn’t the State Government raising taxes – it’s our local one. This past year we witnessed the legislature pick a fight with the Governor about the need to raise taxes in a year when we had revenue surpluses, and the legislature won – but you and I lost.  We watched a legislature drag its heels in the sand when there were many proposals on the table to make Vermont more affordable.  We need leaders who will fight for the people of St. Albans – not their party or their party’s leadership.  

I know the people of St. Albans because this community built me.  I grew up on Savage Street – went to City School and BFA before earning a degree from Castleton.  It’s where my wife and I have put down roots to raise our family.  We want them to be able to thrive and grow here in St. Albans as we did.  I am running for State Representative because I know this community and its potential and with the right leaders in the right places, we can achieve anything.  

 

Casey Toof

Candidate for Franklin 3-1 St. Albans

 

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Milk

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the fifth question: With both dairy farmers and their vendors struggling after four years of low milk prices, what action, if any, do you think the state should do to assist farmers and other agricultural businesses?

As the grandson to Ray and Gilberte Callan who owned and operated a farm in Fairfield for over 60 years, no one needs to tell me how important dairy is to our way of life. The agricultural industry is a $2.2 billion industry in the state of Vermont and I think it is essential to Franklin County and St. Albans. For the past four years we’ve seen milk prices plummet and our farms have suffered. With companies like the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s our community depends on our farmers and their farms.

Currently there are national programs set up that are supposed to help protect farmers when milk prices are low. The consensus I’m hearing is that these programs aren’t working as well as they should be and many farms have or will close. We must protect these farms.

 


Minimum Wage

I was asked by the St. Albans Messenger a series of questions that will continue each week until the election on November 6th. This is the fourth question: This past session the legislature approved a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, which was then vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott. Do you support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

How we move forward with minimum wage in the State of Vermont should be done in a thoughtful manner. I will support policies that incentivize people to reach their potential and in doing so increase their income.  When we consider the impact of $15 minimum wage we have to consider the whole story.  The Joint Fiscal Office testified that a $15 minimum wage could cost the state almost 3,000 jobs annually, leaving Vermont’s most vulnerable without work or without the hours they would need to make a living. 

Vermont is in the middle of an affordability crisis and placing a bigger burden on those businesses is not the way to grow our economy and in turn grow Vermonter's incomes. 90% of Vermont’s employers have less than 20 employees and a $15 minimum wage would hurt those businesses. 



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