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Candidates swarm to the state ballot for general election

Independents, Republicans offer challenges to incumbents in several local legislative races

BRATTLEBORO—If you have requested and received your vote-by-mail ballot from your town clerk for the general election, you might have noticed it has far more names than the ballot for the August party primaries.

With write-ins in the Republican primary and many independents who did not have to face a primary in August, the ballot for the 2020 general election is surprisingly crowded for Windham County voters.

Also, under temporary changes to state election law passed this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates did not have to collect signatures to appear on the ballots, bypassing a step that would likely have winnowed some of the independent and third-party candidates.

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael R. (Mike) Pence are running for re-election on the Republican ticket, and Democrats are running former Vice President Joseph R. (Joe) Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris to challenge the incumbents.

And in Vermont, 19 other third-party and independent candidates are on the ballot for president and vice-president.

Third-party candidates include Don Blankenship and Bill Mohr (Constitution), Brian Carroll and Amar Patel (American Solidarity), Phil Collins and Billy Joe Parker (Prohibition Party), Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and Darcy Richardson (Alliance), Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker (Green), Blake Huber and Frank Atwood (Approval Voting), Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy “Spike” Cohen (Libertarian), Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett (Socialist Workers), Gloria Lariva and Sunil Freeman (Liberty Union), Keith McCormic and Sam Blasiak (Bull Moose), H. Brooke Paige and Thomas James Witman (Grumpy Old Patriots), Jerome Segal and John de Graaf (Bread and Roses), and Gary Swing and David Olszta (Boiling Frog).

Independent and unaffiliated candidate pairings include Richard Duncan and Mitch Bupp, Kyle Kenley Kopitke and Taja Yvonne Iwanow, Christopher Lafontaine and Michael Speed, Brock Pierce and Karla Ballard, Zachary Scalf and Matthew Lyda, and Kanye West and Michelle Tidball.

Statewide candidates

• Governor: Similarly, the ballot lists eight candidates for governor: Republican incumbent Phil Scott, Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman (currently the lieutenant governor), and six independent and third-party candidates.

Emily Peyton of Putney, who lost in the Republican Primary in August, is running under the banner of the Truth Matters party.

She is joined by independents Wayne Billado III of St. Albans, Michael A. Devost of Newport City, Kevin Hoyt of Bennington, Erynn Hazlett Whitney of Arlington, and unaffiliated candidate Charly Dickerson of Montpelier.

Lieutenant Governor: With Zuckerman running for governor, the lieutenant governor race is incumbent-free. Democrat Molly Gray of Burlington and Republican Scott Milne of Pomfret are joined by Billado, Progressive Cris Ericson of Chester, and Ralph Corbo of Wallingford, who is running for the Ban the F-35s party.

U.S. House: Incumbent Democrat Peter Welch has six challengers for his seat: Miriam Berry of Essex (Republican), Christopher Helali (Communist), and independents Peter R. Becker of Rutland, Marcia Horne of Barre, Shawn Orr of Weston, and Jerry Trudell of St. George.

State Treasurer: Democratic incumbent Beth Pearce is being challenged by Republican Carolyn Whitney Branagan of Georgia, Progressive Cris Ericson, and independent Alex Wright of Essex.

State Auditor: Ericson is challenging Democratic incumbent Doug Hoffer in the only two-way race on the statewide ballot.

Attorney General: Ericson is taking on Democratic incumbent T.J. Donovan and Republican H. Brooke Paige of Washington.

Secretary of State: Paige, Ericson, and independent Pamala Smith of St. Albans are all challenging incumbent Democrat Jim Condos.

County races

• State Senate: Incumbent Democrats Jeanette White of Putney and Becca Balint of Brattleboro are running for re-election to their respective state senate seats. They are being challenged by Republicans John Lyddy of Whitingham and Marcus Parish of Rockingham and independent Tyler Colford of Whitingham.

• House of Representatives: There are a few contested races in Windham County for the Vermont House.

In Windham 2-1, first-term incumbent Emile Kornheiser, D-Brattleboro, is being challenged by Republican Party County Chair Richard Morton of Brattleboro.

Longtime incumbent Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, and Democratic primary winner Leslie Goldman, D-Rockingham, are being challenged by independent Ryan Coyne of Rockingham in a three-way race for the two seats in Windham-3.

Two-term incumbent Rep. John Gannon, D-Wilmington, is being challenged by Republican Amy Kamstra of Halifax for the Windham-6 seat.

Incumbent Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Dover, is being challenged by Republican Matthew Somerville for the Windham-Bennington district seat.

Running unopposed are Windham-1 Rep. Sara Coffey, D-Guilford; Windham 2-2 Rep. Mollie Burke, P/D-Brattleboro; Windham 2-3 Rep. Tristan Toleno, D-Brattleboro; Windham-4 Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D-Putney and Democratic primary winner Michelle Bos-Lun of Westminster; Windham-5 Rep. Emily Long, D-Newfane; and Windham-Bennington-Windsor Rep. Kelly Pajala, I-Londonderry.

County Democratic Chair John Hagen is running unopposed for the position of high bailiff.

LWV helps with voter info

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Vermont is offering voters a nonpartisan election resource, VOTE411.org, in preparation for the Nov. 3 election. The site provides tools to assist Vermonters navigate the voting process.

“Voters need simple, accessible tools to help them navigate the voting process before Election Day,” said LWV manager Johnna Ferguson in a news release. “Vermont already has an excellent resource in the My Voter Page at mvp.vermont.gov. Through VOTE411, the League provides an additional way for voters to access the information they need anytime they need it.”

VOTE411 provides candidate information, allows voters to compare positions of candidates who responded, and view side-by-side responses for any two candidates running for office.

Visit Vote411.org, click on “See what’s on your Ballot” and enter your address to get a list of all the races in your area.

In addition, VOTE411 provides voter registration, polling places, and other election-related resources.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #583 (Wednesday, October 14, 2020). This story appeared on page A1.

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