VERGENNES — Reps. Gregory Clark, R-Vergennes, and Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, retained their Addison-3 seats in the Vermont House of Representatives on Tuesday, turning back challenges from former GOP representative and former Vergennes mayor Thelma “Kitty” Oxholm and veteran Democratic candidate and area businesswoman Elizabeth Markowski of Ferrisburgh.
In Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham, Clark — a four-term incumbent — polled 1,804 votes; Lanpher, who was seeking her second term, 1,741; Oxholm, who was unseated by Lanpher two years ago in a close race, 1,438; and Markowski, seeking office for what she said was the fourth and final time, 1,133.
Clark said he appreciated voters’ backing in what is Addison County’s most reliably Republican district.
“I’m extremely gratified with it. I probably say the same things every year. I am humbled by the support,” he said.
Clark said he emphasized a pragmatic approach to the state’s finances in his campaign.
“This time around I tried to make my message very short and very clear, that the most important thing we have to deal with in Montpelier was fiscal responsibility. I think that resonated,” he said.
Clark said he also focused on a bipartisan approach in Montpelier.
“The problems are not only real, but they are big, and we’re not gong to solve these problems by being partisan. We have to come together, and frankly that’s what people expect of us,” Clark said. “It’s time to end the games and get down to real work.”
Lanpher, the first Democrat to win a seat in Addison-3 since 1996, has drawn praise for constituent service and hard work. A member of the House Transportation Committee, Lanpher was active in the aftermath of the closing and destruction of the Lake Champlain Bridge. She helped push for a new bridge and ferry service, and advocated for local businesses hurt by the loss of the bridge.
Lanpher did not win in Addison, a town that backed GOP candidates by wide margins, including Brian Dubie over Peter Shumlin by more than 2-to-1 in the governor’s race. But despite a lower turnout than in 2008, Lanpher picked up 17 more votes there than two years ago, while Oxholm’s total dropped by 110, and Oxholm edged her in Addison by just 324-302.
Lanpher said the tallies in Addison and elsewhere in the Addison-3 district illustrated that constituent service and bipartisanship trump party affiliation.
“That means a lot to me ... I think the results tonight, particularly in Addison, show it’s about the work you do and not the party you belong to,” she said.
As a legislator coming off her first term and seeing a political landscape that overall did not favor Democrats, Lanpher said she was particularly grateful to voters.
“I want to say thank you. Given everything that’s happening in this whole election on the national scene, everyone is on pins and needles,” she said. “And I’m aware as a freshman this is a very vulnerable election for me, and I’d like to think the good work I’ve done is reflected in these results.”
Oxholm, who served as a Vergennes aldermen and mayor before her stint in Montpelier from 2006 to 2008, expressed mixed feelings on Wednesday.
“I was obviously disappointed, but I feel generally good about my campaign. I met a lot of great people,” she said.
Recent knee surgery limited Oxholm’s ability to campaign, and she appreciated those who helped her meet and greet Addison-3 residents.
“I’d like to say I’m really grateful to the volunteers and supporters,” Oxholm said.
Oxholm said another bid for a House seat is not likely, but that she had enjoyed her time in Vergennes government and might consider another campaign.
“I probably won’t run for this office again,” she said. “But there are other opportunities. I won’t rule anything out.”
Markowski, on the other hand, said she is ready to “throw my signs away.”
One reason she ran was to help Lanpher. Markowski said if she hadn’t joined the race voters might have checked Lanpher’s name and also one of the Republican candidates, thus hurting Lanpher’s chances.
Markowski believes she did boost Lanpher’s prospects.
“I was happy I was instrumental in getting Diane Lanpher in,” she said. “She did a great job. I’m so proud of her.”
Town by town, the results were:
ADDISON: Clark, 402; Oxholm, 324; Lanpher, 302; Markowski, 156.
FERRISBURGH: Clark, 641; Lanpher, 625; Oxholm, 494; Markowski, 475.
PANTON: Clark, 160; Oxholm, 138; Lanpher, 123; Markowski, 84.
VERGENNES: Lanpher, 546; Clark, 495; Oxholm, 393; Markowski; 322.
WALTHAM: Lanpher, 145; Clark, 106; Markowski, 96; Oxholm, 89.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.