FERRISBURGH — Mary Ann Castimore of Waltham withdrew her candidacy for the Addison-3 House vacancy on Thursday, leaving Warren Van Wyck of Ferrisburgh as the lone remaining nominee and therefore the presumptive successor to the late Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes.
It was on Jan. 17 that Vergennes-area Republicans nominated Castimore and Van Wyck as candidates to succeed Clark, the longtime Addison-3 representative and Mount Abraham Union High School teacher who died tragically in a traffic accident on Route 7 last Nov. 30. Both were working to set up a meeting with Gov. Peter Shumlin, who must decide who serves in Clark’s place during this biennium.
But Castimore made Shumlin’s task easier on Thursday when she told the Addison Independent that she was dropping out of the race for “personal reasons,” primarily related to an already very busy schedule. In addition to running her own organic vegetable farm in Waltham, Castimore is a longtime promoter/participant in the annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival that raises money in the fight against breast cancer. And she is lead coordinator of the Vergennes Community Food Shelf that is based at the Vergennes Congregational Church, where she is a parishioner.
Castimore added she wants to make sure to have enough time to help her parents, who are in their golden years.
“While I would love the opportunity to serve my neighbors in a political capacity, now is not the right time for me,” said Castimore, who wished Van Wyck all the best.
Van Wyck was surprised to hear of Castimore’s decision, but complimented her on her initial willingness to serve in the Legislature.
As of Friday morning, neither Castimore nor Van Wyck had been scheduled for an interview with Shumlin. The lack of movement in the appointment process, according to Van Wyck, has led to concerns among some constituents in the Addison-3 district, which includes the communities of Ferrisburgh, Addison, Vergennes, Waltham and Panton. At this point, Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, is the lone representative for the two-seat district.
Van Wyck, 60, is a senior project analyst with the University of Vermont and has lived in Ferrisburgh since 1978. He and his wife, Jeanette, have six children — all of whom live within the Addison-3 district. While Van Wyck has not previously held local or statewide office, he has, through the years, been active in youth and adult church activities and in his children’s school functions.
He joined the UVM staff 25 years ago, after having worked for seven years at what is now known as UTC Aerospace Systems in Vergennes.
In his current job, Van Wyck focuses a lot of attention on converting many of UVM’s documents from paper to an electronic format. One of his first big tasks was computerizing UVM’s library book cataloguing system, which used to be on paper filing cards. The university has also, with Van Wyck’s help, made the transition to bar-coded identification cards and on-line course registration.
Van Wyck was an enthusiastic supporter of Clark’s. He said he carefully considered throwing his name into the mix when the seat became vacant, first asking Eileen Clark if she minded him applying for her late husband’s legislative job. She not only gave her blessing, she offered Van Wyck her endorsement.
Next, Van Wyck got UVM’s permission to ratchet back his work hours so that he could serve in Montpelier.
If appointed, Van Wyck said he will advocate for policies to make Vermont more business friendly and for initiatives to make farms more profitable. He lamented the fact that Vermont is losing many of its high school and college graduates to other states where jobs are more plentiful.
“We have an excess in regulations,” said Van Wyck, who is concerned that wages are not keeping pace with the rising costs of state government.
On the issue of health care, Van Wyck said he is not a fan of the state’s movement toward a single-payer health care system. It is a transition that Van Wyck said is full of too many unknowns and that is prompting some physicians to leave the state.
Van Wyck is pleased, however, with the state’s increasing move toward more freedom of choice in public education, and he favors a system in which education dollars follow the student to whichever school he or she attends. He praised Shumlin’s recent calls for boosting technology in schools and sees the potential for increased collaborations between UVM and research-and-development companies.
The Ferrisburgh Republican is also concerned about increasing reports of crimes, particularly burglaries, in his district. With that in mind, he said he would support more crime fighting initiatives.
Van Wyck pledged to run for the Addison-3 seat in 2014 if he is appointed to the position this year.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]