ADDISON COUNTY — Voter turnout for a primary in a year that doesn’t have a presidential election can be woefully low. But a variety of local candidates involved in write-in campaigns and a hotly contested primary race in the Addison-1 House district are hoping to give Addison County voters an extra reason to show up at the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
The lone primary race in the county involves three Democrats vying for two slots on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot in Addison-1, the House district representing Middlebury. The primary candidates include incumbent Rep. Betty Nuovo, former Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) President Donna Donahue, and former Middlebury Planning Commission member Amy Sheldon. The two candidates who emerge from the Aug. 26 primary will go on to join two independents — Calvin McEathron, a Middlebury College student, and former UD-3 school board member Thomas Hughes — in a four-way runoff for the two available seats.
Incumbent Rep. Paul Ralston, D-Middlebury, has chosen not to run for re-election after two terms.
The Addison Independent has previously written profiles of the Addison-1 candidates, which can be read here, and again recently reached out to the primary hopefuls to get a summary of why they are running and what they hope to accomplish if elected in November.
Nuovo is Addison County’s most veteran lawmakers, having served a combined total of 27 years in the House. She currently serves on the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee.
“I am running for re-election because over the years I have gained a great deal of experience on how the Legislature works and how to frame legislation, which requires a detail of knowledge, an open mind, respect for others, learning from each other and how to compromise,” Nuovo said. “I want the opportunity to use this experience for the public benefit. I have the energy and zeal to do this.”
Nuovo cited her top issues as:
• Promoting economic growth “to provide good local jobs for our citizens. I have been working on the issue and for local trade education so students can have a good background in these jobs.”
• Delivering students “a first-class education at a cost we can afford. This requires reform of our system from the bottom up. I recently wrote the (House) speaker on how to do this by talking with local boards, principals and superintendents first.”
• Finding a way to fund a single-payer health care system “to ensure affordable health care for everyone in the state.”
Donahue is a marketing professional with the National Bank of Middlebury. She stepped down as BMP president a year ago after a successful stint that saw the organization, among other things, of signature annual community events like the Spooktacular, Very Merry Middlebury, the Chili Fest, and the Midd Summer Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival.
“I am running for the Vermont House because I believe I can represent the Middlebury community and its interests in Montpelier,” she said. “I believe I can work with others to get things done for our town and our state. I want to preserve what is special about Vermont while helping our state navigate a challenging future.”
She said Vermont is defined by its working landscape, its agricultural roots, quality education and creative thinking. Donahue said the state must tackle such challenges as high taxes, climate change, a weak business environment, a lack of affordable housing, health care reform and others.
“I believe people want to leave things better off than the way they found them,” she said. “We can do this, but only if we act with fiscal responsibility and we tap into the creativity and resilience that characterizes Vermonters. We can leave things better for future generations, but only if we roll up our sleeves and work together. I would be honored to serve this community and I am committed to making Middlebury a better place to live, work, and play.”
Sheldon is a natural resource planner. She operates her own business, Landslide Natural Resource Planning, in East Middlebury. She was the Middlebury Area Land Trust’s first executive director and continues to be an alternate on the District 9 Environmental Commission.
“I am excited to bring my background and skills in economics, natural resources, and nonprofit and small-business management to Montpelier to work on the two most pressing issues facing Vermonters today — the implementation of single-payer health insurance and climate change,” Sheldon said. “Addressing both of these items will save us money and heartache while stimulating our economy.”
She said Vermont’s current health care system represents nearly 20 percent of the state economy, with health insurance to public employees under this system “a major driver of our school and town budgets,” while also creating a drain on business and family budgets.
“Our new health care delivery system must begin by daylighting costs and integrating prevention and then moving toward a single-payer delivery system,” she said. “By providing universally accessible health care that is not linked to your job, we will improve health care outcomes and retain and attract younger Vermonters, especially those with entrepreneurial desires.”
Sheldon said climate change is already costing society millions of dollars a year in flood-related damages to public and private property.
“By working to build a resilient, redundant transportation network, getting people out of harm’s way and protecting those developments that do remain vulnerable, we can avoid catastrophe when the next flood strikes,” Sheldon said. “Additionally we must make investing in well planned, alternative energy sources an absolute priority for our future and future generations.”
She called herself a “big-picture thinker, who appreciates others’ perspectives. I believe in open, transparent, inclusive decision making and I will bring my energy, optimism, and commitment to Montpelier as we work on these and other challenges.”
There’s no primary scheduled in Addison-3, but Addison farmer Peter Briggs is asking voters in that House district to support his write-in campaign so that his name can appear on the Nov. 4 ballot (see related story). Briggs, a Republican, missed the June filing deadline for candidates and therefore needs at least 25 write-in votes on Aug. 26 so that he can be added to the General Election ballot mix with incumbent Reps. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, and Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, and Addison Democrat John Spencer. Those candidates will vie for the two Addison-3 House seats representing Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham.
SIDE JUDGE WRITE-IN RACE
Also lobbying for write-in support on Aug. 26 are three Addison County side-judge candidates: Alice George of Middlebury, Mark Smith of Middlebury and Irene Poole of Ripton. No one had filed nomination papers for the county’s two side-judge vacancies at the filing deadline in June. So George, Smith and Poole have all decided to lobby for the minimum 50 write-in votes they will need to get on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Independent has run profile stories on all the side-judge candidates; read them on addisonindependent.com.
Veteran incumbent side Judges Frank Broughton and Betsy Gossens have both decided not to run for re-election.
Statewide contests on the Aug. 26 primary ballots include:
• Mark Donka of Hartford, Donald Nolte of Derby and Donald Russell of Shelburne in the Republican Primary for Vermont’s U.S. House seat. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is uncontested in the Democratic primary.
• Steve Berry of Wolcott, Scott Milne of Pomfret and Emily Peyton of Putney (see related story) in the GOP primary for governor.
• H. Brooke Paige of Washington and incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin of East Montpelier in the Democrat primary for governor.
• H. Brooke Paige of Washington and incumbent Attorney General William Sorrell of Burlington in the Democrat Primary for attorney general.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]