Newton advances in sheriff’s race

ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Peter Newton on Tuesday took a first step in his bid to lead the force on which he serves, defeating Ron Holmes, 2,948 to 1,423, in a Democratic primary.
Newton will now go on to face former Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs in the Nov. 6 general election. Gibbs is running as an independent for the county sheriff’s job.
“I want to thank everyone in the county who supported me,” said Newton, who was endorsed by his current boss, incumbent Addison County Sheriff Don Keeler, who is retiring.
“It was an overwhelming feeling of support.”
Newton out-polled Homes — a former longtime, part-time deputy with the department — in every Addison County community except Leicester. Holmes won 25 to 23 in that town.
But Newton’s dominance was evident everywhere else. He topped Holmes in their common hometown of Middlebury, 781 to 316. He also beat Holmes 175 to 82 in Vergennes, 381 to 128 in Bristol, 160 to 106 in Ferrisburgh and 203 to 78 in Lincoln.
It was clear Newton had taken Holmes’ primary challenge very seriously. His campaign signs dotted the county landscape. He and/or his staff marched in various July 4 parades. He said he talked to a lot of people while making his rounds.
While he believes his many lawn signs had an impact at the polls on Tuesday, he believes the personal contact he had with voters was a big difference maker.
“They were able to put a face with the sign,” Newton said. “People knew I was genuine and in the race for the right reasons.”
Newton promised his primary campaign is just a prelude to a bigger splash he plans to make between now and Nov. 6.
“We will be out in full force,” Newton said. “People will be amazed with what I’ll do from here on out.”
Newton, 46, has logged 28 years in the public safety field. Certified as an advanced life support EMT, Newton worked for various emergency response organizations from 1990 to 2003, including Middlebury Regional EMS and Fletcher Allen Coordinated Transport. In 2003, he began his law enforcement career, starting off as a Middlebury Police Department officer before joining the sheriff’s department in 2012.
Newton has more than 2,000 hours of law enforcement training and is himself an educator. He is a patrol-procedures instructor and basic training assistant at the Vermont Police Academy.
If elected, Newton’s stated agenda includes — among other things — establishing a county-wide school resource officer position, creating a “cadet” program for local youths interested in helping law enforcement and in the community, and adding a second drug recognition expert to the department.
This was Holmes’ second attempt to be elected county sheriff; he waged an unsuccessful write-in campaign against Keeler back in 2014. Holmes, 63, currently serves as Addison County’s high bailiff. He joined the sheriff’s department as a part-time deputy in 1989, and left four years ago. Holmes is currently a full-time security officer at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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