Addison-3 incumbents reelected

VERGENNES — Addison-3 Reps. Diane Lanpher and Matt Birong, both D-Vergennes, cruised to re-election on Tuesday over two GOP challengers. 
Lanpher won her seventh term to the Vermont House of Representatives, while Birong will return to Montpelier for his second term.
The tally was Birong, 2,552; Lanpher, 2,522; Tim Buskey, R-Addison, 2,015; and Steve Thurston, R-Ferrisburgh, 1,695. 
Buskey and Thurston were both first-time candidates, but each offered extensive municipal experience. Buskey served in both Addison and Middlebury, and Thurston in his former home in the Manchester area. 
They ran enthusiastic campaigns, and lawn signs for all four candidates dotted the Addison-3 district of Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham. 
Results town-by-town were:
•  Addison: Buskey, 520; Thurston, 390; Lanpher; 333; Birong, 318.
•  Ferrisburgh: Birong, 960; Lanpher, 947; Buskey, 690; Thurston, 665.
•  Panton: Birong, 218; Lanpher, 216; Buskey, 159; Thurston, 138.
•  Vergennes: Birong, 875; Lanpher, 834; Buskey, 520; Thurston, 400.
•  Waltham: Lanpher, 192; Birong, 182; Buskey, 126; Thurston, 102.
Birong, a member of the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, echoed all candidates’ sentiments about Addison-3 turnout that approached 80%. 
“Just seeing that level of engagement was encouraging to me just as someone who participates in the process,” Birong said.
He attributed his and Lanpher’s re-election, at least in part, to their consistency in performance and principle.
“It’s us doing what we told our constituents we would do when we were elected two years ago,” Birong said. “We stay genuine to our policy positions.”
Birong credited the spirited opposition. 
“Especially with Tim Buskey, he ran a very positive campaign, where he really focused on the things he wanted to bring to the table, and I really respect him a lot for that,” he said.
Birong listed his top priority as support for businesses and families struggling during the pandemic, both through his connections in Montpelier and Washington.
“It’s just continuing to work on all the stuff we’ve got going with the COVID recovery. I’m working closely with the hospitality sector. We’ve got to maintain the hospitality and tourism industry. It’s so interconnected with our agriculture sector and our beverage industry,” he said.  “I’m doing everything I can to maintain the support from the Legislature, and not just them, also the Congressional delegation, too. I’m doing a lot of work with them.”
Lanpher sits on the key House Appropriations Committee.
She named two top priorities, the first similar to Birong’s.
“Number one, where are we going to be coming out of this economically?” Lanpher said. “We’ve got some nice supports right now. But come January, if things don’t change at the federal level for supports, I’m concerned about our people and businesses getting through the winter.”
She would also like to keep up the momentum for the proposal to bring through-truck traffic out of downtown Vergennes, a new road that would also allow development in northern Vergennes and possibly adjacent Ferrisburgh.
“We’ve had this incredible opportunity and forward motion with the Vergennes Economic Corridor, which would serve the whole area here,” she said. “Where does that fit in now with everything else that is going on?”
Buskey said he was disappointed at losing the race, but congratulated Birong and Lanpher.  
“The good thing is that Matt and Diane are great examples of our citizen legislature, and I still look forward to working with them on issues important to me over the next biennium,” he said.
Would he consider running again?
“Absolutely. We never stop thinking about it,” Buskey said.
Thurston said he “met a lot of wonderful people” and was grateful for the support he received given a relative late entry to the campaign. He had hoped his entry to the race might boost Buskey’s chances, but said he had no regrets. 
“Tim and I had a great time together,” Thurston said. “I think we’re just both going to record this as a positive event in our lives.” 

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