2020 Voters' Guide: Who is running in Addison County
ADDISON COUNTY — All Vermont residents who are registered to vote were sent a ballot by Oct. 1, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have not received one in the mail contact your town clerk. Vermonters may mail in their ballots, return them in a secure ballot box outside town offices, return them in person to your town clerk during regular office hours, or vote on Election Day, Nov. 3, before 7 p.m.
Unclear on exactly where to drop your ballot? Check our handy town-by-town guide.
“Please make a voting plan,” Secretary of State Jim Condos says. “Whether you vote by mail or in person is up to you, but we encourage you to vote by mail and vote early — by Oct. 24 — to reduce contact at polling places and to ensure clerks and postal workers have ample time to deliver and process your ballot.”
To check on the status of your ballot, use Vermont’s online ballot tracking service or contact your town clerk.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-1
Three candidates are running for two seats in the Addison-1 district, which represents the town of Middlebury: incumbent Democrats Amy Sheldon and Robin Scheu, and Republican Tom Hughes. Read Sheldon's and Scheu's responses to our Q&A here (Hughes declined to answer the questions, but recently reached out and said he would be happy to be profiled in the Addison Independent. Look for that story in an upcoming edition.
Amy Sheldon was first elected to the Vermont House in 2014. She holds a BA in economics from Middlebury College and an MS in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont. She is a consulting Natural Resource Planner and River Scientist at Landslide Natural Resource Planning Inc. Sheldon served on the Middlebury Planning Commission for 10 years, on the District 9 Environmental Board for Act 250, and on the Middlebury Area Land Trust board. She has served on the Fish, Wildlife and Water Committee.
Robin Scheu, who was elected first in 2016, graduated from Smith College and Antioch University New England. She spent more than 16 years in commercial banking, and moved to Middlebury in 1992. She was executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp. and has served on many boards. This past biennium she was on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Tom Hughes ran for this House seat as an Independent in 2014, but finished behind Sheldon and then long-time incumbent Betty Nuovo. He is a long-time employee of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and has managed the Crown Point State Historic site just across Lake Champlain. He has lived in Middlebury more than a dozen years, and has two grown children.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-2
In Addison-2 (Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton, Salisbury) incumbent Rep. Peter Conlon (D-Cornwall) will be the only candidate on the ballot. Millard “Mac” Cox of Ripton has mounted a write-in campaign. Read Conlon's responses to our Q&A here, and Cox's responses here.
Peter Conlon was raised in Montpelier and has lived in Cornwall since 1990. He and his wife, Mary, have three sons. He was a reporter and news editor of the Addison Independent through 2004, then worked for nearly a decade as a dairy labor specialist throughout New England. Since 2014, he has owned and operated Vermont Move Management and Home Inventory. He is a member of the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department and the Addison Central School District board. First elected to the House in 2016, he is ranking member of the House Education Committee.
Millard Cox announced a write-in candidacy earlier this fall. He said that the principal reason he is running is to give the people in Ripton, Cornwall and Salisbury and the three other towns an additional voice in protesting Act 46 and the consideration of school consolidation in the Addison Central School District.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-3
In Addison-3 (Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes, Waltham) four candidates are running for two seats: incumbent Vergennes Democrats Matt Birong and Diane Lanpher, and Republican challengers Tim Buskey of Addison and Steve Thurston of Ferrisburgh. Read their responses to our Q&A here.
Diane Lanpher, who moved to Vergennes in 1984, was first elected to the House in 2008. She and her husband, Jim, owned the Horace Mann Insurance agency. She has worked for many years with the Department of Health and worked for the New England Institute of Addiction Studies in Maine. She has been active in the community on many boards and organizations. She has been on the House Appropriations Committee since 2015.
Matt Birong was first elected to the House in 2018. He graduated from New England Culinary Institute and has worked for two decades in fine dining establishments in Manhattan, Boston and Burlington. Since 2007, Matt has been the Chef/ Owner of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes. He has been active in his community in many capacities.
Tim Buskey has an extensive history of public service. His résumé includes lengthy terms as chairman of both the Addison and Middlebury selectboards. He has also served on the Addison planning commission and is now an Addison auditor and town meeting moderator. In Middlebury he also worked on the zoning board, and his nonprofit board service over the years includes the Addison County Home Health and Hospice and Addison County Chamber of Commerce. Buskey’s career includes working at WFAD-AM radio station from 1968 to 1981 and ownership of that business for several years. From 2004 to 2019 he and his wife, Barbara, also owned and operated Vergennes Residential Care Inc.
Steve Thurston is a Pennsylvania native with a long career as a homebuilder in the Manchester area. After graduating from New Jersey’s Rutgers University with a degree in English in 1970, he headed to Maine, and ended up in Manchester, Vt., working as a builder. In Manchester, Thurston said he served as a selectman, zoning board chairman, rescue squad member, and member of the boards of three schools. In 2013 he moved permanently to Ferrisburgh to property he had purchased in 1995.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-4
In Addison-4 (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro) four candidates are running for two seats: incumbent Mari Cordes (D-Lincoln), Lynn Dike (R-Bristol), incumbent Caleb Elder (D-Starksboro) and Valerie Mullin (R-Monkton). Read their responses to our Q&A here.
Mari Cordes, RN, is finishing up her first term in the Statehouse. As a nurse she co-led a nationally recognized multi-year project to reduce central line bloodstream infections at UVM Medical Center, and has presented nationally on topics in medicine. She organized and led medical teams providing relief in Haiti and Greece. She also organized teams to respond to communities hit by Tropical Storm Irene. She was a founding organizer of a nurses union and has worked on numerous state policy-making initiatives. Cordes has many volunteering stints in her resume.
Caleb Elder is a first-term House member. He grew up in Bristol and is a board member for the Mount Abraham Unified School District. He has served on the House Education Committee. He has worked in the renewable energy field for more than a decade. He has helped find solar solutions for scores of area homeowners, schools, nonprofits and businesses.
Lynn Dike, a Massachusetts native, arrived in Vermont in 1986 with her first husband, a career military man who had taken a job as an ROTC instructor at Norwich University. And that’s where Dike completed her nursing degree. She and her current spouse, Lloyd Dike, married in 1992 and quickly settled in Bristol. Dike worked many years at Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing in Middlebury. While she has no political experience, Dike is confident that her decades spent as a mom and volunteer have made her ready for a legislative role.
Valerie Mullin is a native Vermonter and a Mount Abraham Union High School graduate. She’s an independent businessperson, and has taught skincare techniques and mentored women nationally on the subject of entrepreneurship and financial independence. She previously co-owned and operated “Needleworks and Crafts,” a craft supply store in Charlotte that was eventually expanded to locations in downtown Burlington and Ticonderoga, N.Y. Mullin is spending a lot of time these days volunteering with Champlain Valley Rescue, a non-profit group that saves dogs.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-5
In Addison-5 (New Haven, Weybridge and Bridport) two candidates are running for one seat: incumbent Harvey Smith (R-New Haven), and Jubilee McGill (D-Bridport). Read their responses to our Q&A here; read our profile of McGill here.
Harvey Smith has served on and off in the Vermont House since 1999. A Nashua, N.H., native he earned a degree at UNH and for years ran a successful farm in New Haven. Active in his community, Smith has served in leadership positions in the Lions Club, New Haven Congregational Church, Addison County Farm Bureau, Addison County Regional Planning Commission, United Dairy Industries Association and many others. He was state executive director of Farm Service Agency.
Jubilee McGill, a 36-year-old Bridport resident, has gone from being office manager with the Addison County Community Trust to being senior property manager and compliance manager for the county’s largest affordable housing provider. This past January, she started her new job as a service coordinator for the John W. Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes. There, she works with homeless individuals and families, connecting them with the services they need to weather the storm and ultimately land permanent housing. She’s also tended to the shelter’s COVID-19 safety protocols. She became a principal organizer of Addison County Mutual Aid, a countywide effort to match those who needed help during the pandemic with those offering help.
VERMONT HOUSE: ADDISON-RUTLAND
In the Addison-Rutland House district (Shoreham, Orwell, Whiting and Benson) three candidates are running for one seat: incumbent Terry Norris (I-Shoreham), Ruth Shattuck Bernstein (D-Shoreham) and Rick Lenchus (I-Benson). Read their responses to our Q&A here; read our profile of Bernstein here; and read our profile of Lenchus here.
Terry Norris, born and raised in Vermont, has have lived in Shoreham since 1960 on the family farm. He graduated from Tri-State College with a BS in Electrical Engineering and worked with family on their large dairy farm until they sold it in 2008. He is a captain and deck hand on the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry and was a professional photographer for many years, serving as President of Vermont Professional Photographers for two terms. He served on the school board at St Mary’s School. He has served in the House since February 2017.
Ruth Bernstein is a lifelong Addison County resident, having spent her formative years in Bristol and Lincoln. For the past 14 years she’s lived in Shoreham, where she’s been busy as a mom and as director of the Salisbury Free Library. Her past professional experience includes stints as a grade 5/6 teacher at the Leicester School, as a market research professional in Burlington, and as an educator at the Addison County Parent-Child Center in Middlebury. She and her partner have built four homes in Shoreham. A graduate of St. Michael’s College, Bernstein also has experience in public service as a member of Shoreham’s “Farnham Property Task Force” and on the Shoreham Elementary School Board.
Richard “Sensei” Lenchus, who has been a prominent proponent of martial arts for much of his life, is a professional architect. He served as a U.S. Marine Corps jet pilot during the Vietnam War. He moved to Benson 32 years ago, and calls himself a “regular guy” — not a politician and not a member of a political party. He places a premium on ensuring schools are safe places to learn, and has dealt with lead in drinking water and asbestos in walls,ceilings and floors.
On their ballot this fall local voters will see five candidates for the two Vermont Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore. Incumbents Christopher Bray (D-Bristol) and Ruth Hardy (D-East Middlebury) will be vying with Republicans Peter Briggs of Addison and Jon Christiano of New Haven plus Hancock Libertarian Archie Flower. Read their responses to our Q&A here. Read our profile of Briggs, who declined to do the Q&A, here.
Christopher Bray won his first run for the Legislature in 2006, when he won the House seat representing New Haven, Bridport and Weybridge. He won his seat in the Senate in 2012, and has since moved to Bristol. A University of Vermont (BA, Zoology, 1977; MA, English, 1991), he taught there in the English Department, then worked at National Life of Vermont, IBM, Intel and Apple, and now operates Common Ground Communications, which serves the book publishing industry.
Bray has been active in agricultural and environmental issues in the Legislature. He was a lead sponsor of Vermont’s Farm to Plate Program and the Biomass Energy Development Working Group. He has served the community as part of the United Way of Addison County, Middlebury Rotary Club, Vermont Milk Commission, chair of the Rural Economic Development Working Group, Justice of the Peace, and president of the Middlebury Area Land Trust, among other concerns.
East Middlebury resident Ruth Hardy is running for her second term in the Senate. She was raised in the Ithaca, N.Y., area, and earned degrees in government (BA, Oberlin College) and public affairs (master’s, University of Texas at Austin). She worked in Wisconsin state government before moving to Vermont in 2002. Hardy has been executive director of the Open Door Clinic, assistant budget director at Middlebury College, government grants director at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and executive director of Emerge Vermont, which recruits and trains women to run for public office.
She served three terms on local school boards, including as chair of Middlebury’s Mary Hogan School Board. Hardy has served on several early childhood education boards, spearheads tree-planting initiatives at schools, and is active in local politics.
In her first term, she served on the Senate Agriculture and Education committees, in addition to other Legislative posts.
Peter Briggs, the 30-year-old Addison Selectboard member, says “It’s important that there are options” when it comes to the election. He was raised in Addison, where he’s the fourth generation to work on his family’s 170-cow dairy farm off Otter Creek Road. Needless to say, the future of agriculture in Vermont is important to him. Personal responsibility is also key to him: “If people want to wear a mask, that’s their own personal preference … Everybody is responsible for themselves.” As is fiscal responsibility.
Jon Christiano has spent four years ending in 2019 shepherding the Addison County Republican Committee. He and his wife, Jane Ross, moved to Vermont from Pennsylvania in 1969, after Jon took a job with IBM in Essex Junction. At IBM, he was responsible for negotiating annual equipment purchases totaling more than $40 million. He retired form Big Blue in 1993. The couple bought land in New Haven in 2006, built a house, and moved into it seven years ago. A self-described hobby farmer, Christiano and his wife raise pigs and chickens and sell eggs. He has served as a New Haven lister since 2015. He ran unsuccessfully for his town’s selectboard in 2017, but remains keenly interested in local, state and federal policies.
Libertarian candidate Archie Flower has a golden rule: “Live and let live.”
A lifelong Addison County resident, Flower first ran for the Senate two years ago. He said then that he was drawn to the Libertarian ideals of autonomy, freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment.
Flower has worked as a computer technician at UTC Aerospace in Vergennes. Prior to that he worked a variety of jobs, including as a bouncer, a deli clerk and cashier, and as a laborer at the former Specialty Filaments plastics company in Middlebury. When he isn’t at work or campaigning, Flower — who jokingly refers to himself as a “nerd” — can be found immersed in science fiction literature or movies.
The Libertarian Party platform, according to Flower, contains many sensible ideals that should appeal to the independent instincts in many Vermonters. He explains that he is “running to restore the proper relationship between the People of Vermont and Montpelier, as outlined in Article six of the Vermont Constitution.” Article six calls on state officials to be the servants of the people. He does not believe that gun ownership should be restricted by the state, calling it an inalienable right.
The races for the top two constitutional offices in Vermont — governor and lieutenant governor — are competitive this year. Incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott is seeking his third term as Governor. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, D/P-Hinesburg, seeks to displace Scott; read our profile of Zuckerman here. The six other challengers are Emily Peyton of the Truth Matters party, Charly Dickerson (unaffiliated) and Independents Erynn Hazlett Whitney, Kevin Hoyt, Michael A. Devost and Wayne Billado III.
The field is smaller but no less competitive on the Lieutenant Governor’s ballot. With incumbent Zuckerman seeking the governor’s office, the field is wide open for the No. 2 spot. Democrat Molly Gray and Republican Scott Milne are taking most of the limelight. Gray, an assistant attorney general living in Burlington, has worked as a Congressional aide to Rep. Peter Welch and internationally with the Red Cross; read our profile of her here. Milne, of Pomfret, is president of Milne Travel. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2014. Other candidates for Lieutenant Governor are Ralph “Carcajou” Corbo, who identifies his party affiliation as “Ban the F35s,” St. Albans Independent Billado III and Cris Ericson, a Chester Progressive.
Ericson appears on the ballot in five of the six statewide races.
Also on the Vermont ballot are candidates for Vermont’s four other constitutional offices: State Treasurer, Attorney General, Secretary of State and Auditor of Accounts.
In the Treasurer’s race, incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce was appointed to the post in 2011 and won it in the subsequent three elections. She has more than 40 years of government finance experience at both the state and local level. Republican Carolyn Branagan is a life long Vermonter who grew up on a dairy farm and lives on a large farm in Georgia. She has served on many local boards and in the Legislature from 2003 to 2019.
Also on the ballot for Treasurer are Progressive Cris Ericson and Alex Wright, and Independent from Essex.
Incumbent State Auditor Doug Hoffer, who was first elected in 2012, squares off against Ericson on the ballot.
Attorney Gen. T.J. Donovan, a South Burlington Democrat, was Chittenden County State’s Attorney before being elected to this post in 2016. He appears on the ballot along with Republican H. Brooke Paige of Washington, the former CEO of Philadelphia-based Remington News Service, and Cris Ericson.
Voters will also see Paige and Ericson on the ballot as candidates for Secretary of State, along with incumbent Jim Condos, D-Montpelier, and St. Albans Independent Pamala Smith.
Smith has worked for 22 years in the UVM library — 14 in information technology support — and she has a master’s degree in Public Administration.
Condos worked for more than 30 years in the private sector, plus served nearly two decades on the South Burlington City Council and in the Vermont Senate for eight years. He is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.