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Windham County to see primary races on Aug. 28

Cain to challenge Galbraith, White for state senate; Toleno, O’Connor square off to succeed Edwards; Moore seeks rematch against Partridge, Treiber for state rep.

Editor’s note: By way of disclosure, State Senate candidate Mary Cain, a part-time advertising sales representative for The Commons, is on administrative leave from her duties at the newspaper during the campaign, and we look forward to her return after the election. It has long been the policy of Vermont Independent Media, publisher of The Commons, not to engage in direct political activity at the board of directors level. On Monday, in the spirit of keeping the newspaper nonpartisan in both fact and appearance — a critical condition of our federal tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service — the board voted to extend this policy to staff. We extend our best wishes to all three candidates in that race, including Cain, and look forward to a vigorous, spirited, and intelligent campaign, one that we will strive to cover honestly, fairly, and objectively for all, in the best interest of our readers. And finally, on another topic: News Editor Randolph T. Holhut contributed reporting to this story.

BRATTLEBORO—There will be several races on the ballot in the Democratic Primary in Windham County for the Aug. 28 primary.

The filing deadline for candidate petitions was last Thursday, and there were some surprises up and down the ballot.

State Senate

Mary Cain of Brattleboro is running for state senate against Democratic incumbents Peter Galbraith of Townshend and Jeanette White of Putney.

Cain said she believes new candidates should enter the political field to run on issues they’re passionate about.

Issues high on Cain’s list include providing Vermont families with child care and early-education services. She also wants to see the state provide paid family leave and ensure equal pay for equal work.

These aren’t just women’s issues, but family issues, she said.

“I love it,” said White about her reason to run for re-election for the seat she has held since 2002. “I do love public policy; I love trying to come up with solutions [to complex issues] that are the best.”

White said the state is at a “critical point with health care.” She also plans to focus on issues around open meeting and public record laws and campaign financing.

Some issues on White’s list, she said, are not glitzy but still important like defining levels of care for elderly and disabled Vermonters.

Galbraith said the Legislature made good progress last session, but “there’s more work to be done.”

“I’ve shaken things up some [last session] and will continue to do so,” he said.

The senator expressed disappointment at the Public Service Board’s approval of the merger of utility companies Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service. The PSB will not ask the company to return $21 million in overpayments to the ratepayers, or to consider partial public ownership of Vermont’s electric transmission network.

Some of the work on Galbraith’s to-do list included developing a “pragmatic” finance structure for Vermont’s new health care system that captures the most federal dollars and passing an expanded bottle bill.

Galbraith welcomes competition in the primary.

“In general, Vermont is not well served by an absence of competition [in political races],” he said. “I think this will be healthy, and it will be an opportunity for debate.”

House of Representatives

Primary voters will decide the Democratic nominee for the Windham 2-3 seat of State Rep. Sarah Edwards of Brattleboro, as Tristan Toleno and Kate O’Connor will square off.

Incumbents Carolyn Partridge of Windham and Matt Trieber of Bellows Falls will be challenged by Bellows Falls attorney Christopher Moore in Windham-3. Moore unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2010.

There won’t be a party primary for the Windham-Bennington-Windsor House seat now held by Republican Oliver Olsen of Jamaica, who is not seeking re-election. Two independent candidates, Emmet S. Dunbar of South Londonderry and Charles “Tim” Goodwin of Weston, will be running for the position in November.

In a press release, Goodwin wrote, “As a representative of the people, I think it is important to take the time to listen to the concerns of folks here at home.”

“I will be going house to house this summer,” he wrote. “And look forward to meeting with everyone in our district, so that I can best represent their interests in Montpelier.”

Goodwin added in the press release that Olsen has endorsed his candidacy.

House incumbents running unopposed are Mike Hebert (R) of Vernon in Windham-1, Valerie Stuart (D) in Windham 2-1, Mollie Burke (P/D) in Windham 2-2, David Deen (D) of Westminster and Mike Mrowicki (D) of Putney for the two seats in Windham-4, Richard Marek (D) of Newfane in Windham-5, Ann Manwaring (D) of Wilmington in Windham-6, and John Moran (D) of Wardsboro in the Windham-Bennington district seat.

Moran’s and Manwaring’s districts were slightly tweaked as part of this year’s legislative redistricting.

Manwaring’s new district — Windham-6 — now consists of Halifax, Wilmington, and part of Whitingham. Moran’s Windham-Bennington district gains the part of Whitingham not in Manwaring’s district.

Despite running unopposed, Moran released a statement to introduce himself to his new constituents and ask for continued support from the Windham-Bennington district.

After highlighting the Legislature’s accomplishments from the 2012 session, Moran wrote, “Yet, in the aftermath of Irene and the continuation of the recession, much remains to be done.”

He listed long-term Irene recovery, economic development with livable-wage employment, tax reform, affordable housing, universal health care, and statewide cellular and broadband coverage as challenges to address in the upcoming session.

Other races

In the statewide races, incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin will be opposed in November by four candidates: Republican Randy Brock of Swanton, Progressive Martha Abbott of Underhill, Chester resident Cris Ericson of the U.S. Marijuana Party, and independent Emily Peyton of Putney.

Abbott, Ericson, Peyton, and Brock all mounted runs for the governor’s office in 2010.

Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott will be challenged by Democrat Cassandra Gekas of Montpelier, a former spokeswoman for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), and Progressive Marjorie Power of Montpelier, an attorney and former city councilor who ran against Scott in 2010.

Treasurer Beth Pearce, who was appointed to her position in January 2011 by Shumlin after Jeb Spaulding resigned to become secretary of administration, will be running in her first election for her position against Republican Wendy Wilton, a former state representative and current Rutland City treasurer.

With incumbent Auditor Tom Salmon’s decision not to run for re-election, his position is open. Running for the position is Democrat Doug Hoffer of Burlington, who narrowly lost to Salmon in 2010, and Republican State Sen. Vincent Illuzzi.

Illuzzi described the decision to run for auditor as a “big one” after serving 32 years in the general assembly. But, he added, the Senate has “been a difficult place” in recent years.

“I run my own race, and I’m not picking sides,” he said of his independent Republican status.

For Illuzzi, “independent” means that he “doesn’t vote ideology over common sense and practical solutions.”

Incumbent Democratic Attorney General William Sorrell is facing a primary challenge for Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan. The winner will face Republican Jack McMullen, a Burlington businessman who famously lost a 1998 U.S. Senate primary race to retired Tunbridge dairy farmer Fred Tuttle.

Incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos is running unopposed.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch faces no Democratic primary rivals. He will be challenged in November by Republican Mark Donka, a Woodstock police officer and former Hartford Selectboard member, as well as independent James “Sam” Desrochers and Chelsea resident Andre LaFramboise of the Vote KISS Party.

As usual, independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is also running on the Democratic ticket. A Republican primary will select his rival, choosing between former Massachusetts state Rep. John MacGovern of Windsor and H. Brooke Paige, the former CEO of the Remmington News Service.

Also running against Sanders in November will be Ericson on the U.S. Marijuana ticket, and Vote KISS candidate Laurel LaFramboise of Chelsea.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #157 (Wednesday, June 20, 2012).

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