Editorial: The skinny on Primary races

It’s summer, lake breezes are blowing and vacations are winding to an end as fall sports in area schools start in just a couple of short weeks — and, yet, this Tuesday is also Primary Day. It’s earlier than in past years, and the date is controversial because if falls in the midst of summer vacations. A markedly low turnout may prompt reconsideration, but hopefully Vermonters will turn out in good numbers.
And that means you, too.
So, before you head to the swimming hole on a hot summer day or to get a creemee after work, stop by your town’s polling place and vote. It’s important not just because your involvement is what makes democracy work, but because Addison County and Vermont have several important primary contests at stake.
Here’s a run-down of those contests and our take on races important to our readers:
Vermont Governor:
The race: On the Democratic side, three candidates have waged a hard fought battle: Google executive and former Vermonter legislator Matt Dunne has cast himself as an outsider that can bring trust and integrity back to state government, while also relying on his organizational skills as a past director of the federal AmeriCorps program, and his experience in business and community development as a Google executive; Peter Galbraith is a former US ambassador and current Vermont state senator who has championed progressive ideas but represents a staunch vote against wind energy; Sue Minter, former secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, touts her organizational skills, her attention to detail, her politically progressive (yet, pragmatic) policies and her leadership during Tropical Storm Irene.
On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is taking on former Wall Street guru Bruce Lisman, a Shelburne resident and businessman. Scott had the early lead due to his long tenure as a Republican leader and his recent popularity as a likeable lieutenant governor and racecar driver, but Lisman has launched a fierce and pricey campaign.
The skinny: Among Democrats, Dunne and Minter have been running a close race, though in the past week Dunne made a calculated move to clarify his position on wind power, saying in certain terms that his allegiance as governor would be with towns voted against wind turbines being erected in their communities. That stance drew a stronger-than-expected reaction from environmentalists, including Ripton resident Bill McKibben, who dropped his support of Dunne and switched his allegiance to Minter. Other environmentalists responded in kind. The controversy has undercut important support for Dunne and put his campaign in an unfavorable light just a week ahead of the election. To make matters worse, this past Thursday Dunne reversed a pledge to not self-fund his election (in what had been a criticism of Galbraith, whose campaign never took off) and donated $90,000 to his own cause. Those incidents have hurt Dunne, while Minter has capitalized on the kerfuffle and maintained a politically high road. Advantage Minter.
Among the Republicans, Scott has maintained the political advantage of his controversy-free years in office, while also being able to spend the past six years on the campaign trail as lieutenant governor. While his proposed policies are thin and weak, and his legislative accomplishments almost nil, he is affable and might have the highest approval rating of any state politician. To tarnish that enviable image, Lisman has had to come out swinging and attempt to spread a bit of mud on Scott. He has had limited success at getting it to stick, however, casting himself as a Washington-style mud-slinging politician, while Scott has remained above the fray. Advantage Scott.
Lt. Governor:
The race: On the Democratic side, there’s a three-way race between House Speaker Shap Smith, long-time Progressive state Sen. David Zuckerman and four-term Rep. Kesha Ram, a Burlington Democrat who just turned 30. It’s been a fair fight with good issues discussed. Smith has the support of most of Democrats, Zuckerman is a star of the Progressives and has strength within the farm community, and Ram has a promising future, but this is not her year for higher office. Smith has the leadership experience and is the best bet to beat Republican Randy Brock, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Advantage Smith.
House Races: Addison-1 (Middlebury) and Addison-4 (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro):
The races: In Middlebury’s race, incumbent Rep. Amy Sheldon, D, is running for one of two seats against challengers Robin Scheu and Jill Charbonneau. Sheldon is a first-term incumbent who has done a credible job in her first two years. Scheu is the current executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp., a post she has held since 2008. Charbonneau is a retired local letter carrier and union organizer with the U.S. Postal Service. Since no Republican has filed for the office, it’s likely that the Democratic primary will determine who will fill the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Betty Nuovo.
In Addison-4, three Democrats are vying for two seats in that primary, while there is no primary race between the two Republicans. Eight-term incumbent David Sharpe is running against fellow Democrats Mari Cordes and Stephen Pilcher. Cordes has worked as a registered nurse at UVM Medical Center for the past 15 years. Pilcher graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in math, and from UVM graduate school that set him up for a lengthy career in computer engineering — always in Vermont. He’s served on several town and school boards in Monkton. If you missed the story on either race, check out last Thursday’s paper at www.addisonindependent.com.
The skinny: We don’t typically voice a preference in local primaries, unless there is a cause for concern, and there is none in either House race — all candidates represent reasonable views, according to their politics, in reasonable and rational ways.
In Addison-1, Rep. Sheldon has the advantage of incumbency and has done a good job in her first term. Scheu has a wealth of knowledge in finance, coming from the Bank of Boston and Bank of Vermont in Burlington, while also working as the head of two Middlebury-based non-profits before taking her current job — all great credentials for a moderate, business-oriented take on the issues within a Democrat’s perspective. Charbonneau leans Progressive with a slant on labor issues and rights.
In Addison-4, Rep. Sharpe has risen in party ranks, done excellent work on the House Education Committee as its chairman, and hopes to vie for the House Speaker role. We would hope he has that opportunity. Pilcher and Cordes have strong backgrounds and would also represent the district well.
Angelo S. Lynn

Share this story:

More News
Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Op/Ed Uncategorized

Hector Vila: The boundaries of education

There is a wide boundary between the teacher and the student, found most profoundly in col … (read more)

Naylor & Breen Uncategorized

Naylor & Breen Request for Proposals

Naylor and Breen 042524 2×4.5 OCCC RFP

Share this story: