Deputy won’t challenge new county prosecutor

CORRECTION: This article originally reported that David Fenster would be sworn in at the Addison County courthouse at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17. In fact, Fenster will be sworn in at 3 p.m.
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Christopher Perkett confirmed on Thursday that he will not challenge incoming prosecutor David Fenster in the November 2010 election.
Perkett had been considering a run for the post in wake of Gov. James Douglas’s decision last month to appoint Fenster, a former Bennington County deputy prosecutor, to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of longtime Addison County State’s Attorney John Quinn. Quinn had endorsed Perkett to become his interim successor until the 2010 elections. Addison County Republican Committee delegates nominated Fenster after interviewing four applicants for the post, and Douglas ultimately went with the GOP delegates’ pick.
Perkett was clearly disappointed with the governor’s decision, and had been weighing the prospect of resigning his post and then mounting a campaign to win the prosecutor’s job in next year’s elections.
As it turns out, he’ll be staying put.
“I have spoken with David Fenster and based on our conversations, I have decided to stay on as deputy state’s attorney and not run against him in 2010,” Perkett told the Addison Independent.
He said he based his decision on a number of factors, including the costs of a contested election and the impact such a race could have on the county and his family; and a belief that Fenster will perform well as chief prosecutor.
“I believe (Fenster) will be a powerhouse in working for justice here in Addison County,” Perkett said.
“I think he has the energy and the right attitude to do a great job, and I want to be a part of it,” he added.
Fenster is scheduled to be formally sworn in to the position on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 3 p.m., at the Addison County courthouse.
The county’s new prosecutor will arrive at a suddenly depleted office. A new round of state budget rescissions required Vermont’s 14 prosecutors’ office to trim a combined total of $250,000. As a result, Addison County’s office had to trim its staff by an office support position.
Perkett said the cut will require his office to close to the public on Wednesdays, so that remaining staff can catch up on paperwork that would have been done by the lost staffer.
The office will now consist of a state’s attorney; deputy state’s attorney; victims’ advocate; and one administrative assistant.
“We have more work than we can do,” said Perkett, who is miffed by the cut and added he hopes it is not a portent of additional reductions during the coming fiscal year.
An ad hoc panel is soon scheduled to recommend additional measures to the Legislature on how Vermont’s court system could be streamlined.

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