Jerome, Shaw reelected to Vt. House

I am thrilled. I’m really glad I got re-elected. I want to continue to represent these towns.
— Stephanie Zak Jerome

BRANDON/PITTSFORD/SUDBURY — Incumbent state Reps. Stephanie Jerome and Butch Shaw won re-election to their House seats in three-way race Tuesday, setting the stage for another two years serving Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury.
Jerome, a Democrat from Brandon, was re-elected to her second term, and Shaw, a Republican from Pittsford, was re-elected to his seventh term. Republican challenger Dave Soulia of Pittsford mounted a strong campaign but came in third for the two open seats. 
Shaw reaped 2,803 votes, followed by Jerome with 2,112 votes. Soulia garnered a respectable 1,869 votes.
All three candidates noted what an odd campaign it was this year with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place. There was no going door-to-door to meet with voters, no town hall meetings attended by large crowds, and no in-person public forums. There were a lot of candidate honk-and-wave events on the side of the road around the county, but it was harder to reach people, the candidates said.
“It was a very different campaign,” Jerome said. “I didn’t want to go door to door because it’s unhealthy and unsafe. But it’s hard to talk to people so you don’t have the same gauge of public opinion, so it was a little bit more wide open.”
Shaw agreed, adding that he is waiting to hear how the Legislature will conduct its business come January. Legislators have been meeting virtually via Zoom for committee meetings, but the state is still trying to discern how the full Legislature can convene in person for votes and to maintain social distancing during the pandemic.
“My concern with still meeting on Zoom is sometimes you don’t get as clean and well-debated on the issues as you do in person,” he said. “But we’ll get through it. We did it last year and we can do it this year.”
Soulia reflected on his first run for office.
“I can’t complain,” he said on Wednesday morning. “I thought it was great, a first-time candidate in the world of COVID. I’m very grateful to have had the impact I had.”
Soulia went on to congratulate the incumbents for a fair and well-run race.
“I think we conducted ourselves just the way we’re supposed to,” he said. “It was responsible, fair, and we shared our messages and what we believe and didn’t beat up on each other. Our campaign was great and I’m impressed with our towns.”
At 7 a.m. Wednesday, Jerome was standing on the corner of Carver and Union Streets in Brandon holding a sign that said simply, “Thank You!!” and waving to the rush hour traffic.
“I am thrilled,” she said. “I’m really glad I got re-elected. I want to continue to represent these towns. We need a Democratic voice in the Legislature to balance the Republicans.”
That said, Jerome added that she was very happy to continue working with Shaw on issues pertaining to Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury.
“We have a very good working relationship,” she said as another car honked and drove by. “We work well together and I think we fairly represent our communities, a moderate Democrat and a moderate Republican.”
It may be his seventh election victory, but Shaw said he was honored by the number of votes cast for him.
“I do appreciate the support I got from our communities,” he said Wednesday. “I was very surprised by the number of votes I got.”
Shaw said prior to Tuesday, the most votes he ever received was 2,200 a few years ago, but to top 2,800 ballots this year was humbling, he said.
“For me, that’s really big,” he said. “It’s a real testament to the people in the district and I’m happy they put their trust in me again. So now, I’ve got to get back to work.” 

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