Winooski House Candidate in Hot Water After DUI Arrest | Off Message

Winooski House Candidate in Hot Water After DUI Arrest

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Jordan Matte during the Center for Media & Democracy's forum for the Democratic primary candidates of the Chittenden 6-7 District - SCREENSHOT/CHANNEL 17
  • Screenshot/Channel 17
  • Jordan Matte during the Center for Media & Democracy's forum for the Democratic primary candidates of the Chittenden 6-7 District

A candidate running to represent Winooski in the Vermont House is in legal trouble following his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence last month.

Jordan Matte, 32, had a court date on Thursday for a civil license suspension tied to his July 19 arrest in Winooski. Matte, the husband of Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott, is one of three candidates on the ballot in the August 11 Democratic primary.

He’s vying for one of two seats representing the Chittenden 6-7 district, which includes Winooski and a small part of northeast Burlington.

The other two primary candidates are incumbent Hal Colston (D-Winooski) and Taylor Small, the director of health and wellness at the Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington. Diana Gonzalez (P-Winooski) opted not to run for reelection.

The legal case comes two weeks after Matte logged on July 23 for a remote candidate primary forum sponsored by the Center for Media & Democracy's Channel 17 with visible facial injuries. It’s unclear whether those injuries were related to his arrest four days earlier.

A Winooski police officer arrested Matte at 7:55 p.m. on July 19 at the intersection of West Canal and Mayo streets on suspicion of “driving under the influence, first offense,” according to a list of arrests available on the Winooski Police Department’s website.

On July 24, the Department of Motor Vehicles received a request to suspend Matte’s license for “test refusal.” That suggests Matte turned down a breath or blood test common in such investigations.

According to the Chittenden County Superior Court docket, Matte’s attorney, C. Jordan Handy, appeared on Matte’s behalf at the suspension hearing on August 6 and denied the charge. Handy’s website refers to him as “the DUI guy.”

Reached on Friday, Handy said he didn't have the case details available and declined comment.

Matte has not been charged in any criminal case, but it appears to be only a matter of time. The court docket indicates the civil case “should be recalled at the time of the arraignment in the criminal case.”

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said criminal charges have not yet been filed in the case. On July 30, her office asked for additional information from the Winooski cops. When that information is received, she expects Matte to be “re-cited to appear in the criminal [case],” George wrote in an email.

The criminal case is not being delayed until after the primary, she said.

“This request for more work and therefore the slight delay in his arraignment, had absolutely nothing to do with any candidacy he may be vying for,” George wrote.

Matte did not return a call and an email requesting comment on Friday afternoon. In the Zoom forum, he described himself as a political newcomer who grew up in Winooski and works at a local company that makes instruments for the biotech industry.

His campaign Facebook page shows images of volunteers helping him install campaign signs around the city, as well as him standing outside a bar.

Derek Brouwer contributed reporting.