Brandon’s Rep. Steve Carr won’t run, but Seth Hopkins will

BRANDON — Democrat State Rep. Steve Carr of Brandon will not run for re-election to the Vermont House in November, but Republican Seth Hopkins will.
Hopkins notified The Brandon Reporter of his intent to run for Carr’s seat on Monday. Hopkins, who is chair of the Brandon selectboard, ran for the first time in 2012 and lost to Carr.
“It’s one of those examples of the office is seeking me instead of me seeking the office,” Hopkins said, adding that a number of people — including a Democrat — approached him to run for the seat. He declined to name the Democrat.
“It’s someone I respect and apparently they respect me,” he said.
The seat is one of two to represent Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury. Longtime Republican Rep. Butch Shaw of Pittsford is the other representative for the district.
Hopkins, 41, said he spoke with Shaw before making his decision.
“I talked to Butch and he said he think I would make a good running mate for him and he looks forward to campaigning together,” Hopkins said.
The petitions to file for candidacy are due May 31, and the primary will be held Aug. 14. The general election is Nov. 6, and the winner would start on the job at the opening of the 2019 Legislative Session.
Hopkins said if he wins the House seat, he would step down from the Brandon selectboard. He was just re-elected to a one-year term in March.
“I certainly would no longer be the chair, and personally I don’t think it’s the best decision to stay on the board,” he said. “My term ends in March and I would stay until the end of my term and not run for re-election to the selectboard.”
Carr said in an interview Monday that he felt it was time for him to step aside now that he is in his third term.
“It’s nothing more than it’s been six years and it’s time,” he said. “Six to seven years was always about the time I thought I would serve.”
Carr, 68, has owned and operated a financial consulting business in Brandon following 25 years in local banking. He said the business has slowly wound down over the years, especially after he was elected to the House in 2012.
“I have a couple of ongoing clients and then a bunch that are seasonal,” he said. “So, I have the ability to do as much or as little as I want.”
If the first sure sign of retirement in Vermont is membership to the 251 Club, where members strive to visit all 251 of Vermont’s towns and cities, then Steve and Jeannie Carr are on their way.
“I just sent out our application,” Carr said. “It’s one of those things we always thought about doing but never got around to it.”
Carr said he thoroughly enjoyed his tenure at the Statehouse, and found his work on the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development very rewarding.
He was the also the first chairman of the new House Energy and Technology Committee, created by House Speaker Mitzi Johnson.
The committee oversaw issues ranging from the internet to the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s decommissioning.
“It’s a wonderful position,” Carr said of his House seat. “I loved the job. It’s just my time to let someone else in.”
Whether or not that someone is a Republican like Hopkins or another Democrat remains to be seen. Bob Clark, chair of the Brandon Town Democratic Committee, said Monday that the committee has yet to name a candidate who will challenge Hopkins in November.
“We hope to have someone in the next week or two,” he said.
In the meantime, Republicans have a strong candidate in Hopkins. An active member of the local GOP Committee, he has been a Brandon selectman since 2015 and is the current chair. Hopkins, along with Town Manager Dave Atherton and the current selectboard, has helped usher in a renewed period of financial stability and infrastructure improvements, including downtown overflow culvert and the ongoing Segment 6 Route 7 improvement project.
Hopkins said Monday that he learned a lot from his House bid in 2012 and is ready for the challenge.
“I was extremely unknown in 2012,” he said. “I think this job is for someone who can work with stakeholders and make progress, and I think the last few years on the selectboard has shown that. I think we’ve accomplished a lot in Brandon, and we did that by working together.”

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