General Election preview
By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County voters will go to the polls this Tuesday, Nov. 7, to decide five local House races, a slew of contests for statewide offices, and various local referenda — including a $10.3 million bond proposal for major renovations to Otter Valley Union High School.
The following is an election overview for each of the legislative districts in Addison County, along with a rundown of other initiatives that many area voters will field on election day:
State Senate, Addison County and Brandon
For the first time in recent memory, both of the Senate seats representing Addison County and Brandon are uncontested. Incumbent Sens. Claire Ayer of Weybridge and Harold Giard of Bridport, both Democrats, appear assured of additional two-year terms, barring an epic write-in campaign by an eleventh-hour candidate.
Ayer is seeking her third consecutive term in the Senate, while Giard is seeking his second.
Incumbent House Reps. Steve Maier and Betty Nuovo, both Democrats, are unopposed for new two-year terms representing Middlebury.
Incumbent Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, faces no opposition in his bid for a third, two-year term representing the district that includes Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury.
Five well-known and well-respected candidates are competing for two House seats in the district that includes Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
Incumbent Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, and former Vergennes Mayor Kitty Oxholm emerged victorious in a September primary and will represent the GOP on the ballot.
Diane Lanpher of Vergennes and Elizabeth Markowski of Ferrisburgh are running under the Democratic banner, while current Vergennes Mayor April Jin is running as a Progressive.
Clark, a teacher at Mount Abraham Union High School, is seeking his third consecutive term in the House.
Oxholm, a longtime special education administrator for the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, is making her first bid for the Statehouse. Her political résumé includes seven years on the Vergennes City Council, and she has served on the boards of numerous civic and nonprofit organizations.
This will be Markowski’s third bid for an Addison-3 House seat. She is a local businesswoman who launched the popular Homeworks and EveryWear stores during the 1990s. Like Oxholm, she has served on numerous civic and not-for-profit boards.
Lanpher is making her first bid for a legislative office. She is a former educator who worked as training coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs.
Jin, in her second year as mayor of the Little City, first ran for the House in 1994, as a Democrat. She made a second unsuccessful bid in 2000.
Along with serving as mayor, Jin currently presides as chairwoman of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center board, and is a member of the Vergennes Union High School board.
Longtime Addison-3 incumbent Rep. Connie Houston, R-Ferrisburgh, has decided not to run for re-election this year.
Two incumbent Democrats and two Republicans will vie for the two seats in the district that includes Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro.
Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, is seeking his fourth consecutive term in the House. He served as vice chairman of the House Human Services Committee during the last biennium.
Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol, is seeking his third consecutive term. He is currently a member of the House Transportation Committee, and serves his community on the Bristol selectboard.
Republican Barb Rainville of Lincoln is making her first run for the House. She is a marketing manager for Maple Landmark Woodcraft in Middlebury, and has served her community as a member of the local zoning board. Her cousin, Martha Rainville, is competing for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House.
This will be Nathan Fitzgerald’s second run for an Addison-4 seat, though the Bristol Republican is entering the fray in a less conventional manner than he did two years ago. This year, enough supporters wrote Fitzgerald’s name on the September primary ballot to make him eligible to run in the general election.
Two New Haven men are squaring off for the right to represent the district that includes Bridport, New Haven and Weybridge.
Incumbent Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven, is seeking his fifth consecutive term. A farmer and former president of the Addison County Farm Bureau, Smith has served his entire legislative career on the House Agriculture Committee.
He is being opposed this year by political newcomer Christopher Bray, who with his spouse, Kate Selby, operates the Equestry horse farm on South Street in New Haven. He also runs a small publishing company, and currently serves as president of the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT) board.
For 14 years, Rep. Mark Young, R-Orwell, had served the district that includes Benson, Orwell, Shoreham and Whiting. When he announced his retirement earlier this year, it prompted interest from two Shoreham candidates — Republican Steve Jackson and independent Will Stevens.
Jackson is a businessman who currently operates Phenomenal Fudge Inc., and Nathan’s Hot Dog vending. Both are solo ventures that are based out of the Shoreham home he shares with his wife, Robin. Together, they have three children.
The Jacksons’ previous ventures have included Jackson Orchards Inc. in Shoreham and the former Harvest Hill Country Store in Middlebury.
Stevens and his wife, Judy, run the Golden Russet Farm in Shoreham, which specializes in organic vegetables and flowers. Stevens has taught a course titled, “Eating Locally, Thinking Globally” during the past two J-terms at Middlebury College.
In addition to his agricultural pursuits, Stevens has been active in his town, currently serving as Shoreham Town Moderator and on the local planning commission. He is a past member of the town selectboard.
This is the first House run for both Jackson and Stevens.
Two familiar faces are in the running for the Brandon House seat that was occupied for more than a quarter-century by the late Rep. Robert Wood.
Rep. Joseph Acinapura, R-Brandon, has served in the seat since last year. Gov. James Douglas appointed Acinapura to the position after Wood died.
Now Acinapura is running for the post. He is a former Brandon selectman and a retired military officer. He is former chairman of the Vermont Parole Board, and served for two years as chairman of the Governor’s Veterans Advisory Council. He currently serves on the board of the Vermont Veteran’s Home in Bennington.
He is opposed by Mitchell Pearl, a Democrat, who is a partner at the Middlebury-based law firm of Langrock, Sperry & Wool. A 15-year resident of Brandon, Pearl served six years on the Neshobe Elementary School board, five of those years as chairman. This is Pearl’s second bid for the Addison-4 seat. He ran unsuccessfully in 2004 against Wood.
Other county and statewide races that will be at stake on the 2006 general election ballot include:
• Addison County Probate Court Judge. Incumbent Judge Amy Douglas, a Republican, faces opposition from Cornwall Democrat Misse Smith, a longtime lawyer.
• Addison County Side Judge. Incumbent Side Judge Frank Broughton, a Cornwall Republican, and Democrats Betsy Gossens of Salisbury and Jeffrey McDonough of Middlebury are vying for two positions at the Addison County Courthouse.
• U.S. Senate. United States Rep. Bernard Sanders, a Burlington independent, and Colchester Republican Rich Tarrant, the former CEO of IDX Software, are the major candidates running for a six-year term representing Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Incumbent U.S. Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., is not seeking re-election.
• U.S. House. Democrat Peter Welch of Hartland and Republican Martha Rainville of Williston are the major candidates for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House. This is the first Congressional bid for both Rainville (former adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard) and Welch (the current President Pro Tem of the Vermont Senate).
• Governor. Incumbent James Douglas, a Middlebury Republican, is seeking a third consecutive term as the state’s top executive. He faces opposition from, among others, Democrat Scudder Parker of Middlesex. Parker is the former director of the Energy Efficiency Division of the Vermont Department of Public Service.
• Lieutenant governor. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, R-Essex, is running for re-election against Hartland Democrat Matt Dunne and Progressive Marvin Malek of Montpelier.
Dubie, a commercial airline pilot and longtime Vermont Air National Guard member, is seeking his third consecutive term as lieutenant governor.
This is the first run for Dunne, a state senator from Windsor County. Dunne is the former national director of AmeriCorps*VISTA.
Some communities and school districts will use the Nov. 7 elections as an opportunity to poll their residents on local referenda.
Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union residents will field a $10.3 million expansion and renovation proposal for OVUHS. Approximately $7 million of those costs will be paid by district voters through a bond issue, with the balance to be paid through state aid. The project calls for many improvements, including construction of a new gym.
In Bridport, residents will be asked if they’d like to reconsider their decision last August to spend $600,000 on a new town garage and renovated fire department facilities. The vote is being forced by a citizens’ petition. The project had been approved by an 81-75 margin on Aug. 17.
In Bristol, residents will vote on a proposal by the Bristol American Legion to use a spot on the town green for construction of a memorial to all veterans from the five-town area. An informational meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in Holley Hall.
And, in Middlebury, voters will be asked to respond to a selectboard survey that will determine if there is public support for a local mosquito-control program.