Independents Ralston and Audet team up for Senate race

ADDISON COUNTY — The election for the two Senate seats that represent Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore just became a five-way race.
Marie Audet of Bridport and Paul Ralston of New Haven on Monday were set to declare via a press release that they are running as Independents to represent the two-seat district in the Vermont Senate.
Ralston late last week acknowledged the duo’s intention to run as an independent “ticket,” but both he and Audet were tied up and couldn’t address specific questions before the deadline for this edition of this newspaper.
Incumbent Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, Middlebury Democrat Ruth Hardy and Addison Republican Peter Briggs are already confirmed candidates. The other incumbent, Democratic Sen. Claire Ayer of Addison, in early May announced that she would not run after 16 years representing the county.
Audet, whose family owns Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, is making her first bid for the Vermont General Assembly. For more than a decade, Audet has been an active voice for the farming community at the local, state and national levels.
A strong advocate for sustainable agricultural practices, Audet is a founding member and vice president of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, an organization that helps farmers to adopt agricultural practices that improve economic resiliency and environmental stewardship. She currently serves on Gov. Phil Scott’s Climate Action Commission.
“My experience in small business, community engagement, and advocacy in state government have fueled my passion to more broadly engage all Vermonters in building a resilient, sustainable, and healthier state,” Audet said in the press release announcing her candidacy. “The timing seems right for independent, common sense leadership.”
Ralston (pictured) was twice elected to the Vermont House representing Middlebury — in 2010 and 2012; he chose not to run in 2014. He returns to electoral politics after an absence of four years. The owner of the Vermont Coffee Company in Middlebury, Ralston has long been active in community and business organizations. His family recently moved to New Haven.
“I’m excited about running for office again,” Ralston said in the press release. “I believe Vermont is on the verge of a major renewal, and we need legislators with direct business experience to help guide the state towards that future.”
Audet and Ralston share many ideals and achievements. Ralston’s business is being recognized this year with the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, an award Audet’s dairy farm received in 2006. As reported in the Independent, Vermont Coffee Company is the first coffee roaster in the nation to roast with 100 percent renewable biogas.
Blue Spruce Farm is known in Vermont and across the nation as a leader in renewable energy production, having been the first “Cow Power” farm by converting their cows’ manure into renewable electricity. Audet has been recognized with the Tim Grundy Renewable Energy Award (2015), and Blue Spruce has received the Eastern States Exposition Agricultural Adventurers Award (2014) and the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award (2012).
Both candidates describe themselves as independent thinkers and independent voters. They promoted their candidacy by saying they are both looking for the best ways to advance the Vermont economy, promote affordability for working Vermonters, spread the use of renewable energy, and tackle the big challenge of cleaning up Vermont’s waterways.
“We are both very hopeful about Vermont’s future,” Audet said in the press release, “and we believe a fresh, independent approach will be good for our county and state.”

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