By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY â€” Addison County voters turned out in droves on Tuesday to change some of the faces of those who represent them in the county courthouse and in Montpelier.
With turnout exceeding 65 percent in most towns, residents elected Cornwall Democrat Eleanor â€œMisseâ€? Smith as their new probate court judge, and sent three first-time candidates to county seats in Vermont House. One of those three new legislators â€” New Haven Democrat Christopher Bray â€” earned his spot in a tight Addison-5 contest against longtime incumbent Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven.
Tuesdayâ€™s General Election also gave voters an opportunity to soundly defeat a $10.3 million renovation plan for Otter Valley Union High School; endorse a new town garage project for Bridport and a veteransâ€™ memorial in Bristol; and pick two assistant judges for the Addison County courthouse.
The tightest county-wide race proved to be for Addison County probate judge, involving Smith and eight-year incumbent Amy Douglas, a Shoreham Republican.
Leads in the contest shifted back and forth, as results from the countyâ€™s 23 communities began pouring in at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening.
Douglas scored decisive wins in her hometown of Shoreham (392-172), as well as in Ferrisburgh (733-570); Orwell (398-166); and Addison (411-264).
But Smith, a Middlebury-based lawyer and longtime community volunteer, scored big wins of her own in her hometown of Cornwall (421-200); in Weybridge (354-136); and in Ripton (217-82). But her most decisive â€” and ultimately insurmountable â€” win came in Middlebury, where she out-paced Douglas, 1,866-849.
Smith ultimately took 14 of the countyâ€™s 23 towns, en route to an overall 8,224 to 7,413 victory.
In the only other contested countywide election, Salisbury Democrat Betsy Gossens and Cornwall Republican Frank Broughton won in the three-way race for two assistant judge positions. Gossens earned 8,919 tallies and Broughton, an incumbent, garnered 7,448. Middlebury Democrat Jeffrey McDonough finished out of the running with 6,733 votes.
For the first time in years, there was not race for Addison County and Brandonâ€™s two seats in the Vermont Senate. Democratic incumbents Claire Ayer of Weybridge (14,507 votes) and Harold Giard of Bridport (11,848) will both serve another two years.
The GOP also did not field challengers in the Addison-1 and Addison-2 House districts.
In Addison-1, Democrat incumbents Steve Maier and Betty Nuovo of Middlebury were both automatically renewed for new two-year terms, while Addison-2 incumbent Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, had no opponents in his walk to victory in the district that includes Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury.
Other legislators had their hands full in contested races. Those races took place in the House districts of:
Incumbent Rep. Greg Clarke, R-Vergennes, and former Little City Major Kitty Oxholm won the districtâ€™s two seats in a race that included current Progressive Vergennes Mayor April Jin, Ferrisburgh Democrat Elizabeth Markowski and Vergennes Democrat Diane Lanpher.
Incumbent Reps. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, and David Sharpe, D-Bristol, easily won re-election ion a four-way race for the two seats representing Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro.
Harvey Smith, a four-term incumbent and senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, proved to be the only incumbent lawmaker in Addison County to go down to defeat on Tuesday.
That occurred when Bray, a political newcomer and co-operator of the Equestry horse farm in New Haven, edged Smith by a 1,029 to 979 result in the district that includes Weybridge, Bridport and New Haven.
Shoreham independent Will Stevens was the clear winner in the race to determine who would succeed 14-year incumbent Rep. Mark Young, R-Orwell, in the district that includes Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, Whiting.
Stevens, who with his wife Judy run Golden Russet Farm, beat Shoreham Republican Steve Jackson by a 1,105 to 625 tally.
Incumbent Rep. Joseph Acinapura, R-Brandon, scored a comfortable 984-792 victory over his opponent, Mitch Pearl, in the race for Brandonâ€™s House seat. Acinapura had been appointed to the seat last year upon the death of longtime incumbent Rep. Robert Wood, R-Brandon.