ADDISON COUNTY — The Nov. 6 ballot will feature three contested Vermont House races, a three-way runoff for the county’s two seats in the state Senate and a bevy of statewide and federal races that is, of course, headlined by the showdown for the presidency of the United States.
Area town clerks are anticipating a hefty turnout as is usually the case in a presidential election year. In 2008, 52.5 percent of Addison County’s 23,152 voters turned out at the polls for a ballot topped by the race between Republican John McCain and the eventual winner, Democrat Barack Obama.
Local House races
Locally, Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, is facing a challenge from Salisbury independent and small business owner Tim Ryan in the race for the Addison-2 House seat. Jewett, 49, is rounding out his eighth consecutive year in the House, where he has served primarily on the House Judiciary Committee. He is currently the House majority whip and is a member of the House Government Operations Committee. Jewett serves on the Ripton School Board and is a past member of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission board, Vermont Audubon Society board and Moosalamoo Association.
Ryan, 45, a former Salisbury selectman, established Ryan’s Quality Paint Finishes 18 years ago. He announced his run this summer, saying, among other things, that he’d like to play a role in making state government more friendly to small businesses that are now struggling to get by. He believes the state should do more to relieve the tax burden and reduce regulations on businesses.
The Addison-2 House district includes the towns of Ripton, Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester and Salisbury.
In Addison-3, Democratic challenger Arabella Holzapfel has made it a three-way race for two seats that includes incumbent Reps. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, and Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes. The district includes the communities of Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham.
This is Holzapfel’s second run in Addison-3. She ran unsuccessfully back in 2000. But Holzapfel, who oversees Middlebury College database of on-line publications at the Davis Family Library, is more optimistic about her chances this year. If elected, she vowed to support single-payer health care and new programs helping farmers forge a better livelihood in the face of stagnant milk prices and other challenges.
Clark, 65, is a four-term incumbent and veteran member of the House Education Committee. He is also a former Vergennes city counselor and deputy mayor. Clark has been a longtime teacher at Mount Abraham Union High School.
Lanpher, 56, is rounding out her fourth year in the House. She is a former Vergennes city counselor. She joined the Vermont Health Department in 2001, serving as training coordinator for the department’s division of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Programs. She currently workers with her husband, Jim Lanpher, at Horace Mann Insurance.
Meanwhile, incumbent Addison-5 Rep. Harvey Smith, D-New Haven, is facing a challenge from New Haven Democrat Ed McGuire for the Addison-5 seat that represents Bridport, New Haven and Weybridge.
McGuire, 69, spent 18 years teaching math to Mount Abe students before retiring in 2008. Prior to that, he spent 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, retiring as a commander after serving assignments in places ranging from New York City to Tokyo. McGuire is running on a platform of growing more jobs — green ones, in particular; taking better care of the environment; keeping the state affordable for people of limited economic means; and improving public education to ensure graduates are better equipped to enter technology and other job vacancies in the state.
Smith, 67, a lifelong farmer, is in his second stint as an Addison-5 representative. He previously served in the House from 1999-2006, becoming a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. He elected to run again in 2010, when incumbent Democrat Chris Bray launched a bid for lieutenant governor. Smith currently serves on the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee.
Running uncontested for two-year terms this year for Addison County House seats are Democrat Reps. Paul Ralston and Betty Nuovo of Middlebury in Addison-1; Democrat Reps. Michael Fisher and David Sharpe in Addison-4 (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro); and independent Rep. Will Stevens of Shoreham in Addison-Rutland-1 (Benson, Orwell, Shoreham and Whiting).
The only other local House race is in the Rutland-6 district, which includes Brandon, Sudbury and Pittsford and has two seats. Pittsford resident Butch Shaw, who has represented his town in the House for the past two years, is running; he was nominated by both the Republicans and Democrats. Also on the ballot are two Brandon residents: Democrat Steve Carr and Republican Seth Hopkins.
This year’s race for the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore features three candidates: incumbent state Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, New Haven Democrat Chris Bray, and independent Robert Wagner of Ripton.
Ayer, 64, is seeking her fifth consecutive term in the state’s highest chamber. She is the former Senate majority whip and currently serves as vice chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee and chairwoman of the Health and Welfare Committee. The Health and Welfare Committee will be in the legislative spotlight this year as lawmakers consider additional sweeping reforms to make sure the state conforms to the federal Affordable Care Act. The Legislature is also trying to put Vermont on the path toward a single-payer health care plan that supporters believe will lead to greater administrative efficiencies and cost savings.
Bray, 57, served in the House from 2006-2010, on the House Agriculture Committee. He championed several bills — including the Farm to Plate initiative — designed to promote sustainable, local economic development in food, forestry and energy. He has served on the boards of the Middlebury Area Land Trust and United Way of Addison County, among others. He is founder of Common Ground Communications, which provides writing, marketing, editing and publishing services to technology clients. He is a partner in his family’s 82-acre farm in New Haven.
Wagner, 48, ran for state Senate two years ago, finishing last in the five-person field, with 1,127 tallies, but was nonetheless buoyed by the number of votes he garnered as a first-time candidate. His list of issues is a familiar one — creating more jobs and getting government finances in order. In an effort to lessen the financial burden on Vermonters, Wagner is proposing to eliminate the personal income tax and instead tax natural resource extraction as well as unearned income from land speculation. Among additional tax reforms, Wagner wants to do away with taxes on land improvements and all taxes against earned income — including capital investment, wages, improvements, and “anything that is the product of human ingenuity and sweat.” With this new tax structure in place, Wagner believes federal and state governments would be forced to downsize and sell off assets at market price (especially land) to citizens who would put it into production.
He is a senior principal consultant with the technology company Oracle Corp.
For the first time in many years, there are no Republican challengers for the pair of Addison County Senate seats.
Statewide and federal races
State and federal races feature a number of third-party hopefuls and the following major party candidates:
• Incumbent Democrat Bill Sorrell, Burlington Republican Jack McMullen and Barre City Progressive Ed Stanak for Vermont attorney general.
• Democrat Doug Hoffer and Republican Vince Illuzzi for Vermont auditor of accounts.
• Incumbent Barre City Democrat Beth Pearce, Rutland City Republican Wendy Wilton and Burlington Progressive Don Schramm for state treasurer.
• Incumbent Berlin Republic Phil Scott and Burlington Democrat/Progressive Cassandra Gekas for lieutenant governor.
• Incumbent Putney Democrat Peter Shumlin and Swanton Republican Randy Brock for governor.
• Incumbent Norwich Democrat Peter Welch and Hartford Republican Mark Donka for U.S. House.
• Incumbent Burlington Independent Bernie Sanders and Republican John MacGovern for U.S. Senate.
• Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. and Republican Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindepend