George joins the write-in race for assistant judge

MIDDLEBURY — There are now three write-in candidates for two side judge slots that until recently had no takers. Longtime Middlebury resident Alice George has confirmed her plans to join Mark Smith and Irene Poole in a write-in effort for the Aug. 26 primary, a necessary step for the candidates to have their names placed on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.
George, 65, needs little introduction to area residents, particularly those involved in health care and emergency services. She is a lifelong Vermont resident and longtime Registered Nurse, who for more than two decades worked in the office of the late Dr. Robert LaFiandra of Middlebury. She has spent the last 13 years working in Porter Hospital’s Emergency Department.
George is a lifetime member of Middlebury Regional EMS, and since 2000 has been one of Addison County’s four assistant medical examiners who respond to untimely deaths.
She has also served her community for 25 years on the Addison County Court Diversion board.
She is the spouse of Middlebury selectboard Chairman Dean George.
“My variety of life experiences and my interest in the criminal justice system provide me with an excellent background to serve as an assistant judge in Addison County,” George said.
“I have been interested (in serving as side judge) for quite a while, and then I got really busy, then unfortunately the petition time came and went,” she added. “The more I thought about (a write-in campaign), the more I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Side judges sit with the presiding judge to hear civil and family court cases in the state’s 14 counties. They also have administrative duties, such as appointing the county clerk, treasurer and auditor, road commissioners, and notaries public. They manage the courthouse and prepare the county budget. They earn a salary for their administrative duties, paid by the county, and a per diem income for their judicial duties, paid by the state.
Incumbent Addison County Side Judges Frank Broughton and Betsy Gossens have chosen not to run for re-election. There were no takers for the two spots when the candidates’ filing deadline passed on June 12.
The three write-in candidates for the side judge posts must each get at least 50 tallies on Aug. 26 in order to move on to the General Election. The top two write-in candidates for side judge on the Republican, Democrat, Progressive and Liberty Union ballots will move on to the Nov. 4 ballot. This means that Poole, Smith and George could all make the cut, depending on the write-in ballot combinations from Aug. 26. Side judge is a non-partisan position, so the candidates are hoping to garner tallies on all four primary ballots.
George believes she would be well-suited to the job.
She was keenly involved in budgeting while serving as president of the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association (now known as Middlebury Regional EMS). This experience, George believes, would make her an asset in helping to plan the annual county budget as a side judge.
George noted that listening and making important decisions are a big part of her job as a Porter Emergency Department official. And she said she has gained a broad perspective of the county’s court system as a member of the Court Diversion Board.
“I think my basic knowledge of the community and living here, and knowing that the judges aren’t always from here — they come and go — I think it’s an asset to have somebody that has lived in the community for as many years as I have, to be able to assist them about knowing the people,” George said.
And like her counterparts in the race, George wants to keep going the side judge tradition, which is unique to Vermont.
“The side judges need to stay,” George said. “It can give the presiding judge a different perspective and a different outlook.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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