MIDDLEBURY — Last Thursday’s filing deadline for candidates vying for Vermont House and Senate seats produced some familiar local political names from the past along with the conspicuous absence of a prominent incumbent.
Information culled from the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office reveals there will be contested races in three of the county’s six House districts, including a Republican primary in Addison-4.
Meanwhile, incumbent state Sen. Harold Giard, D-Bridport, failed to meet the filing deadline. He will now have to wage a write-in campaign for the Aug. 24 Democratic primary to get his name on the Nov. 2 general election ballot in order to win re-election to one of the two seats representing Addison County and Brandon.
“It crept up on me,” Giard said of the deadline, which came at a time when he said he was on the road on business. “I thought I had more time, but I didn’t.”
Giard, a three-term incumbent, will need to garner at least 50 signatures as a write-in on the Democrat ballot on Aug. 24 in order to place his name on the Nov. 2 ballot. If successful, he would join four other candidates who filed their petitions before the deadline: Fellow incumbent Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Weybridge; Orwell Republicans Andrea Ochs and Mark Young; and Ripton independent Robert Wagner.
Ayer is a four-term incumbent and the current Senate majority whip.
Voters in southern Addison County in particular will recognize Ochs and Young. Ochs has been a longtime member of the Addison County Farm Bureau, as well as an Orwell orchardist and community activist. Young needs little introduction. The longtime president of the First National Bank of Orwell represented the Addison-Rutland-1 House district from 1992-2006. He spent his entire legislative career on the House Commerce Committee.
Young is not the only Statehouse veteran jumping back into the electoral fray this year.
Former Rep. Harvey Smith, a New Haven Republican, is seeking to reclaim the Addison-5 seat after a four-year hiatus. Smith represented the district (which includes the towns of New Haven, Bridport and Weybridge) for eight years prior to being defeated in 2006 by incumbent Rep. Christopher Bray, D-New Haven. Bray has decided to run for lieutenant governor, and Weybridge Democrat Spencer Putnam is seeking to continue his party’s hold on the Addison-5 seat.
This will be the second time that Putnam and Smith have faced each other in Addison-5. Smith prevailed in the previous match-up in 2000.
The Nov. 2 election will also feature a comeback attempt by former Rep. Thelma “Kitty” Oxholm, R-Vergennes, in the two-seat Addison-3 district that includes Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham. The former Vergennes mayor served one term before finishing out of the running in 2008 to current incumbent Reps. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, and Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes.
Clark and Lanpher are both running for re-election. Joining them and Oxholm on the ballot will be another familiar face — Ferrisburgh Democrat Liz Markowski, who has previously run in Addison-3.
As reported in the June 14 issue of the Independent, the most highly contested House race in the county is taking shape in Addison-4, the two-seat district that includes Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro. There, incumbent Democratic Reps. Mike Fisher of Lincoln and David Sharpe of Bristol are running for re-election. They will face the top two finishers in an Aug. 24 GOP primary contest that will feature Fred Baser and John “Peeker” Heffernan of Bristol, and Dan Nugent of Starksboro. Primary day voting in Bristol will be held at the local American Legion off Airport Road, as renovation work continues on Holley Hall.
Barring write-in campaigns from challengers, incumbents will be uncontested (see chart).
The Addison Independent will interview challengers leading up to the primary and general elections. Incumbents, who have had an opportunity to write legislative reports and comment in news reports during the past biennium, will be given (along with challengers) an election questionnaire following the primary, the responses to which will be featured in the Independent before the General Election.
Reporter John Flowers is at email@example.com.