Nuovo’s retirement spurs three-way House race in Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — For most candidates, prevailing in the upcoming Aug. 9 primary merely earns you a ticket to the big dance — the General Election on Nov. 8, when voters will decide the winners.
But a Primary Day victory next Tuesday could be a coronation for two of the three Democrats vying for Middlebury’s two Vermont House seats. That’s because no Republicans have opted to run in the Addison-1 district this year.
The three Democrats running for the two Addison-1 seats are incumbent Rep. Amy Sheldon, Addison County Economic Development Corp. (ACEDC) Executive Director Robin Scheu, and Jill Charbonneau, a retired local letter carrier and union organizer with the U.S. Postal Service.
The upcoming retirement of longtime Addison-1 Rep. Betty Nuovo, D-Middlebury, has stimulated considerable interest among those seeking to take her spot in Montpelier. Nuovo announced her decision early this year in order to give Middlebury residents ample time to weigh a run in her stead.
It should be noted that the two Addison-1 primary winners could still face a General Election challenge if:
• One or more people wage successful write-in campaigns on Tuesday to get on the Nov. 8 ballot.
• Charbonneau finishes third among the Democrats on Aug. 9, she will still run in the General as a Progressive Party candidate.
The candidates have been doing a lot of door-to-door campaigning and attending special events during the past few months to maximize their name recognition and respective campaign messages prior to the primary.
The Independent asked the three candidates to provide short statements on their campaign priorities and the concerns they might have gleaned from voters while campaigning. Here, in alphabetical order, is a brief bio on each candidate and how they all responded:
Jill Charbonneau, 60, was born at Porter Hospital and was raised in North Ferrisburgh. She is a graduate of Vergennes Union High School and the University of Vermont, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She got a job with the USPS in 1983, first stationed in Burlington and Winooski. She transferred to the Middlebury Post Office in 1987 and retired from her job in 2014.
She has been very active in USPS union causes. Charbonneau is the former president of the Vermont State Labor Council AFL/CIO and is the current president of the State Association of Letter Carriers AFL/CIO.
“This campaign season I have knocked on roughly 2,000 doors,” Charbonneau said. “The most common concern is affordable accessible to health care, or in my words, ‘Medicare For All.’ The dismay over the cost, taxpayer funds — whether at the state or federal level — and functioning of Vermont Health Connect, is prevalent. The (health care) exchange sells health insurance, not health care, keeping people away from their doctors because they can’t afford the premiums of high-deductible plans. This biennium, universal access to primary care deserves to be the centerpiece of legislative action. Health care costs are a major component in the larger picture of affordability for Vermonters.”
Robin Scheu, 59, moved to Middlebury from the Boston area 24 years ago. She arrived in Addison County with a lot of experience in the world of finance, having been a Bank of Boston executive who led hundreds of employees within the institution’s commercial lending department. She moved on to the bank’s retail division, running a $3 billion operation with 500 employees with 42 branch locations around Boston.
Scheu left Bank of Boston to join what was Bank of Vermont in Burlington, then moved on to jobs leading several Middlebury nonprofits. Specifically, her resume includes stints as manager of the Addison County Solid Waste Management District and interim director of the Middlebury Area Land Trust, before being appointed in 2008 to the job she currently holds: Executive director of the ACEDC. Her role with the organization has seen her help aspiring entrepreneurs secure loans and grants to start up businesses in the county.
“I have really enjoyed meeting people as I’ve gone door-to-door the past two-and-a-half months, listening to the stories and perspectives of my neighbors throughout Middlebury,” she said. “People have spoken to me about many things: the need for affordable, quality child care; the importance of our tech centers to teach skills that lead to well-paid jobs; support for local businesses; more affordable housing; and climate change.These conversations have reinforced my priorities: Economic development that helps local businesses, Vermont taking a leadership role in reducing climate impact, and quality education that offers opportunities for all of our young people to succeed,” she added. “I’m excited by what I’ve learned, and look forward to working hard for Middlebury on these matters and more.”
Amy Sheldon,49,was first elected to the House in 2014. She has served her first term on the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee. She is a self-employed natural resource planner and river scientist, and her business is called Landslide Natural Resource Planning Inc. Sheldon graduated from Middlebury College in 1988 and was the Middlebury Area Land Trust’s first executive director, playing a major role in the establishment of the Trail Around Middlebury. She served for more than a decade on the Middlebury Planning Commission, and was an alternate on the District 9 Environmental Commission.
Sheldon in 2014 was the top vote-getter in a four-person runoff for Addison-1’s two House seats, with 1,310 rallies. Nuovo finished second in that election, with 1,163 votes.
“Affordability, health care, energy and the environment are my legislative priorities,” she said. “Affordability means ensuring government is meeting our needs in the most economical way possible, that Vermonters have access to good jobs and affordable housing and that education dollars are spent wisely. Health care — our current health care system is not working and is a drain on our economy. I support moving toward a single-payer health care system by starting with universal primary care. Finally, and most importantly, the environment is the foundation of our quality of life and our economy. I am committed to balancing the environmental, social and economic needs of our community in all of my decisions. I hope to be re-elected to continue to represent Middlebury in Montpelier.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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