Democrat Matt McPhillips defeated incumbent Republican Robert Doherty, who serves as the legislature’s chairman, in District 1, according to Unofficial Election Night Results from the Sullivan County Board of Elections. District 1 includes the Towns of Bethel and Highland, the Village of Jeffersonville, and Swan Lake.
McPhillips discusses why he decided to run for office, his approach to governance, and the changes he seeks to implement, including taking back County control of the Adult Care Center at Sunset Lake, addressing the opioid crisis, and dealing with the housing crisis.
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Matt McPhillips: [00:00:00] definitely excited to get to work. Campaigning is one part of it, but it’s really just a long job interview.
Now we actually really get to work. I’m excited to do that.
Tim Bruno: Yeah, this was a race with a lot of eyes on it. Lots of folks have their opinions about the current chair and you came into this race hoping to change some of the opinions there. How do you feel voters, why do you feel voters selected you?
Matt McPhillips: I think what we showed as a County what I would say about the the election itself, the, we showed that you can still run a very positive issues focused campaign without any of the back and forth and the fighting and the animosity and still be successful. And I’m proud of that.
I think voters really were ready for a change especially in that vein. And I’m happy that I’m happy that was the case. I’m glad that, we still can run a campaign, successful campaigns, just on the issues, just talking about what we want to do and just keeping everything positive.
It’s a. Nice thing to [00:01:00] see in today’s day and age. Matt, in these preliminary results that we’re seeing from the Board of Elections, Patricio just mentioned that you won by 61 percent of the vote. That seems to be a pretty significant win. What do you think that means in terms of what the voters in your district were saying?
Matt McPhillips: They thought that it was time for a change that they had seen what was going on much like I did, which is why I decided to run in the first place and decided that if they wanted to see, a future for this county, that was much more positive much more focused on, on the issues that were affecting them directly that a change needed to be made.
And I’m glad that, I’m glad that they agreed with me but I, I really think it comes down to just understanding that we have a lot of issues here and we’re going to need to jump right into them and tackle them. And I feel that one of the things that I really wanted to stress was to make sure that people understood that if they were voting for me, they were voting for somebody that was going to hear them out, no matter what party [00:02:00] they were, no matter who they were, what their idea was, it was going to be heard.
And that’s something that I’ve always felt is the only way to run any type of government or any type of organization or any type of relationship between two people. You got to make sure that you’re willing to listen first, consider other people’s ideas and then act on it. And that’s the only way to get anything done, really.
And if we’re not doing that, then we’re missing out on some of the more creative and interesting solutions to problems that we all know we have.
Jason Dole: Yeah, you’re emphasizing policy and functionality over party affiliation and have this type of a win in Salt Lake County where it tends to be a majority conservative county.
Do you have any feel or were you getting some cross party support?
Matt McPhillips: It’s so hard to know how to, I talked to so many different people since I started doing this, so over a year ago and. Yeah, I talked to everybody, people from all parties. It doesn’t, I never really minded one way or the other with a local election like this.
It’s [00:03:00] about trying to make sure that you’re working for the people. And that’s what I wanted to make sure that I was expressing was my intention to do. I think I probably did get some cross party support. I don’t, I don’t know how everything broke down, but. But for anybody that did support me from across the aisle I very much appreciate their vote.
And for those that didn’t I’m still your representative. You can still call me. Most people by now probably have my cell number, so it’s not changing. I don’t mind whatsoever. I want to be a representative for the people who did vote for me and those who didn’t as well. They deserve exactly the same amount of representation and…
That’s what I want to provide. I’m not too worried about who or how or why it all happened, but I know that, I’m here now and I’m ready to work for everybody.
Patricio Robayo: Matt, this is Patricio. One of the threads I’ve seen this election season is a lot of those running were Because of what’s happening at the legislature.
This was their reaction. They didn’t like what was happening at the board meetings and they wanted to do something. And we’re going to talk to Scott later on about [00:04:00] this also, but because that was one of your main reasons why we talked about this earlier, but one of the main reasons you were running is because of what was happening in the legislature and you wanted to run and you wanted to make your voice heard and you decided to run for public office.
Matt McPhillips: You want to make sure you treat people properly, you want to make sure that you hear them out, like I said, it’s about hearing people out and working together with others regardless of who they are, whether they agree with you all the time, it doesn’t matter, it’s about making sure that everybody’s voice is heard in these kinds of discussions and that We move forward in a collaborative manner, and I think people were ready for that, and I think that’s what these election results showed.
I’m just, I’m happy that people worked, and that people agreed, and that they felt that it was time for a change and to do things a little bit differently, and I’m looking forward to getting to work. I Certainly did run because I wanted to see things operate differently and I’m looking forward to bringing that to the table but it’s also because I love where I grew up, where I live, and this is where I want to be for my future, for my family’s future, [00:05:00] and, like we said, Patricia, that More than anything, it is why I really wanted to do this and, now I feel like we have a very strong team coming in here that’s going to be able to get a lot of really good and positive things done for this community. And that’s, what’s more important than anything else
Tim Bruno: Speaking of the team you obviously were focused on your race, but it was a big night for Democrats as they flipped control of the legislature. How does that feel to have control of the legislature to further the goals that you have just been speaking of? And what does it mean for folks in Sullivan County?
Matt McPhillips: It means you’re gonna get a team of incredibly hardworking people that have, we’ve worked together from the very beginning of this process. We’re all very like minded in that we’ll work together with anyone we’ll listen to all ideas.
We’re taking all comers. It’s really a fantastic opportunity for people who are really engaged for people who, everybody on this team, everybody. And that includes Mary Allison, that includes [00:06:00] Justin that includes, all the people that have helped us to get to this point we’re ready to go.
We’ve been ready to go from day one of starting this campaign. What you’re going to see is a much more cohesive unit coming together, listening to what the public has to say and governing from the ground up and not the top down. And that fundamentally I think is the biggest change that the people of Sullivan County will see coming out of this this new legislative body.
Matt, as you’re all fired up and ready to do something, could you just give us an idea, top line, what are a couple of things that you want to do? What’s right out of the gate? What do you want to work on?
Matt McPhillips: Out of the gate, first things first, and it really is an urgent situation. We’ve got to make sure that we take back control of the care center.
That one’s very time-sensitive. We’ve really got to make sure that we do that and really take care of the people that are our residents, our neighbors that are living in there right now and make sure that they’re getting the care that they deserve. That’s number one and that’s the most time-sensitive thing.
Number two I said it before and I’ll say it again, the opioid crisis needs to be addressed in a more [00:07:00] cohesive and proactive manner. We need recovery facilities. We need opportunities to place people in safe housing so that they’re not re-exposed after they’re coming out of rehab programs and everything else.
We need to make sure. That they have the resources in the community here that they’re going to need for recovery. And that means detox. That means treatment. That means caring for the people, our neighbors, our friends that we all know that are struggling. Housing, another one that was a really big thing for me and a really big thing that I want to push.
I want to work together. directly with town to address the crisis that’s happening right now. The rental market is crazy. Rents are super high, especially post COVID. Housing prices are insane. We need to make sure that we’re taking care of working people. That want to live in our communities and want to contribute and want to be a part of this county.
I want to work directly with any planning boards, any town boards that are looking to increase their stock and housing. I’d like to work with the IDA to incentivize some new building because I [00:08:00] feel like we really do need to increase the stock. And what that looks like, that’ll be worked out together in partnership with the town in partnership with my fellow legislators and just making sure that we have buy in from the public as well.
It has to be a collaborative process, and I’m looking forward to get that started. Yeah, and the last thing really is just working together. Being civil, making sure that we hear everybody’s opinion and that we’re making solid decisions for the people of Sullivan County.
Tim Bruno: Matt McPhillips who’s one, beaten the current incumbent and chair of the legislature Robert Doherty in District 1.
Congratulations and thanks for joining us, Matt.
Matt McPhillips: Thank you so much, guys. Let’s let’s make this a regular thing. I like
talking to you guys.