Four candidates eye Brandon-Pittsford seats

BRANDON — The race for the Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury House Seat is heating up with four candidates vying for the two available spots — and three of the four are newcomers.
The district has two House seats in the Legislature. The open seat is the result of Democratic Rep. Steve Carr’s decision this spring not to run for re-election in November. The other seat is held by Republican Rep. Butch Shaw of Pittsford, who has announced he is running for re-election.
Last month Brandon resident Tim Guiles announced he is running on the Progressive/Democratic ticket. A week later Brandon Democrat Stephanie Jerome filed a petition to run in the race.
As previously reported in the Independent, Brandon selectboard Chair and Republican Seth Hopkins was the first to throw his hat in the ring following Carr’s announcement.
Guiles (pictured) is a Progressive running with the blessing of the Brandon Democratic Party. The 58-year-old has lived in Vermont since 1991, and moved to Brandon in 2015. He lives in a small, completely energy-efficient house on Carver Street entirely powered by rooftop solar panels.
Educated as an engineer, Guiles originally worked in robotics and automation in the semiconductor industry. Since moving to Vermont, he has been a professional musician, playing the piano for various schools and choruses, including the Middlebury College Community Chorus and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra chorus.
He has one son, Zachary, 28, who is the principal trombonist for the Richmond Symphony in Virginia.
Last month Guiles told the Brandon Reporter that he feels good about representing both Progressives and Democrats on the ticket. He said he was talking to friend and Progressive Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman of Middletown Springs, who told him things are different politically this far south in Vermont.
“He said, ‘South of Burlington, the Democrats and Progressives get along really well,’” Guiles recalled. “I feel really good about this decision. I’ve had a lot of support from people I’ve talked to.”
Guiles was also complimentary of Hopkins, saying he believes the field of candidates would provide for “healthy debate” on the issues as the election gets closer.
“I have great respect for Seth Hopkins,” Guiles said. “Everyone I’ve talked to has said the town has made great gains and had great projects, and it seems like Seth has done a fine job in that. I’m pleased to have him as an opponent.”
Rep. Shaw has announced he is running for a third term representing Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury and said he is looking forward to campaigning with Hopkins.
Just before Jerome announced her intentions, Guiles said he was excited at the prospect of Jerome’s candidacy.
“The same way Seth is running on a ticket with Butch, I would love to have another Democrat or Progressive run on the same ticket,” he said. “Maybe we could win both seats. It would make for a healthy debate this fall.”
Jerome, 55, is co-owner of Visual Learning Systems, an educational science publisher based in Brandon that produces standards-based K-12 science videos, teachers guides and student activities. She and her husband, Brian, started the business roughly 20 years ago.
Jerome graduated from the University of Vermont and has a master’s degree in public policy from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a former policy analyst for NASA.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” she said when asked what compelled her to run. “The timing is right for me. The business is not as demanding, the kids are older. I’m 55 and if I’m going to do it, I need to do it now, so I feel this is the time.”
She has three children: Louisa, 23, Andrew, 21, and Benjamin, 19. All three attend or have attended UVM.
Jerome is the current chair of the Brandon Planning Commission, and a past chair and board member of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce. Over the years she has been an active volunteer at Neshobe Elementary School and Otter Valley Union High School.
Jerome is running with the blessing of the Brandon Democratic Committee and the state Democratic Party as well, she said.
Jerome said that if elected she would be interested in working in the realm of economic development, renewable energy and recreation.
“I would very much like to be elected to the Legislature to help Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury,” she said. “With my experience, I feel it’s time to do this. You have to seize these moments.”

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