The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

A local election overview outlining choice prior to November 6 voting

The Mountain Times sent a brief questionnaire to the candidates, but Hurricane Sandy pushed deadlines to the limit; the full answers of those who responded will be included online. Below is the information available as of press time.

Rutland County state senators Bill Carris (D) of Rutland, Peg Flory (R) of Pittsford, and Rutland resident Kevin J. Mullin (R) are running unopposed.

In Windsor County, Senate president pro tem John Campbell, (D), of Quechee, and incumbents Dick McCormack and Alice Nitka (both Democrats from Bethel and Ludlow, respectively) face opposition from Republicans Paul E. Gibbs of Springfield, Dick Tracy of Sharon, and Jeff Whittemore of Perkinsville.

Gibbs has run for the House twice, once in 2008 and again in 2010. He is a native Vermonter, and considers himself conservative. In his past campaigns, he has said he wants to restore Vermont's original values.

Tracy, according to his campaign's Facebook page, is running because he dislikes the course current leadership: "I am concerned about the future of Vermont and the future we are leaving our children and grandchildren… If elected, I hope to bring more balance to the state Senate."

No information is available about the Whittemore campaign.   

Campbell made news recently when he heard about the plight of Karen Sheehan, a nurse who lives in New Hampshire. Her brother, Kevin Sheehan of Milton, Vt. died in Iraq in 2004, and she asked the state of New Hampshire for a Gold Star license plate to honor his memory. She was refused; the state told her Gold Star plates were reserved only for mothers.

Campbell arranged for a Vermont Gold Star plate bearing to be awarded to Sheehan. MacCormack has served since 1988. According to his legislative biography, he became a resident of Bethel in 1970 and he received a degree from the Vermont Law School, Master's Degree (cum laude - 2002). He has served on a number of boards and on the District III Environmental Commission.

Nitka's legislative biography states, "She is employed by Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc., an agency providing services to children. She was formerly employed as a social worker for more than thirty years specializing in adoptions. Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Board of Trustees; Ludlow Board of Civil Authority; Senate Chair, Vermont Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus; Vermont Foster and Adoptive Families Association; Black River Valley Rod and Gun Club and serves as a Justice of the Peace."

Rutland 2 (2 reps): Clarendon, Proctor, Wallingford, West Rutland, part of Tinmouth
Republican incumbent Tom Burditt, of West Rutland and incumbent Democrat Dave Potter of Clarendon are joined in the race by Wallingford residents Glenn Eno (R) and Dave Potter (D).

According to Burditt's Facebook page, "The issue I have heard most from concerned Vermonters is health care. When I am asked if I support or oppose 'Shumlin Care' I answer with these questions: Who is going to pay for it? How much is going to cost? Who is covered? What are the coverages? Are services going to be rationed? What is covered? With these important questions unanswered it is a program I cannot support at this time."

There is little on the Eno campaign page except two stories concerning wind power.

According to Fredette's Facebook page, he has a long record of public service and says he understands Vermont values. He is president of the Vermont School Boards Association.

Potter is an Air Force veteran, teacher, and tree farmer. He is running for his second term.

Rutland 3 (2 reps): Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton and West Haven
Republican incumbents Bill Canfield and Bob Helmof Fair Haven are unopposed.

Rutland 4 (1 rep): Rutland Town
Incumbent Jim McNeil's district was eliminated in redistricting. Thomas P. Terenzini is running unopposed.

Rutland 5-1 (1 rep): Rutland City
Incumbent Republican Peter J. Fagan is running unopposed.

Rutland 5-2 (1 rep): Rutland City
Incumbent Democrat Peg Andrews will face Republican challenger Larry "Cooper"  Cupoli.

Rutland 5-3 (1 rep): Rutland City
Incumbent Democrat Herb Russell did answer the MT questionnaire. As his chief accomplishment last year, he listed sponsoring and passing copper theft legislation, which he said, "strengthens tools for police in the war on cash for drugs."

For the next session he said his priority is getting the Western Rail Corridor funded and built, and an Amtrak run from Rutland to Burlington. Russell also supports "affordable health care access and our carefully constructed and well thought out legislation thus far. I will make final decision once I see final cost analysis."

On energy, Russell said he supports wind projects that don't dominate the "scenic panoramas," and his belief that such renewable resources as solar and geothermal power "could be vital to Rutland's economic future."

Russell's challenger, John E. Mattison, says on his campaign page on Facebook that he wants to fix roads and bring business to Rutland. It states in part:

"By making Rutland a business friendly city, while concentrating on fixing roads, bridges, sidewalks, and water/sewer lines, our city would have a better chance of attracting new and bigger businesses. These businesses would employ more people, who could fill our vacant housing, thus creating a bigger and broader tax base, leading to a decrease in taxes. A decrease in taxes would make it more affordable to live within the city limits, both for the home owner and the renter alike. Businesses would also see a decrease in taxes, lowering their overhead cost thus creating the opportunity for them to hire more employees."

Rutland 5-4 (1 rep): Rutland City
Democratic incumbent Gale Courcelle is not running. Sherri Durgin-Campbell is running as a Democrat, and is being challenged by Douglas Gage.

According to her website, Durgin-Campbell favors bail reform and has served as a volunteer mediator in Rutland's small claims court.

Gage is a member of the Rutland City school board, according to his campaign Facebook pagewhich states: "We raised our family in the same home that we live in today and have set down deep roots in this community. I can relate to the struggles of working families in Rutland Ward 5-4 and will advocate for what I believe will make us a stronger community."

Rutland 6 (2 reps): Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury
There are three candidates for two seats in Rutland-6. Incumbent Butch Shaw, running as both a Republican and Democrat from Florence is racing against Democrat Stephen Carr and Republican Seth Hopkins, both Brandon residents.

Carrr's campaign page has little about his campaign, and lists this biographical information:  "Fourth Generation Vermonter, long time Brandon resident, business owner, husband, father, and grandfather."

On Hopkins' campaign page he says, "there are questions about where Vermont is going. Are we on a sustainable path with public finances? Are we building a state where our children can reasonably choose to live and earn a living? Are we honoring the enduring values that make our corner of Vermont the place we want to call home?

Shaw was appointed to the seat by Gov. Jim Douglas in 2010, after Peg Flory moved to the state Senate.

Rutland-Windsor 1 (1 rep): Bridgewater, Chittenden, Killington and Mendon
Both Republican incumbent Jim Eckhardt and Democratic challenger answered the MT questionnaire. Both are Chittenden residents.
As his chief legislative accomplishments in the last session, Eckhardt said that he saved about 100 jobs in Poultney by modifying a mercury regulation bill that would otherwise have closed a specialty light bulb plant. When the state closed a reservoir in Chittenden, Eckhardt, working with other legislators on both sides of the aisle as well as ANR made it possible for those affected to get no-interest loans to drill their own wells.

"Both of these solutions required bipartisan support and I am proud of my ability to cross the isle to gets things done for my district," he wrote.

Eckhardt wrote that job growth should be the top priority of the next legislative session.

"We need to attract business to Vermont," he wrote." When people work they are less likely to commit crimes or get involved with drugs. They do not need to rely on social services thus reducing our tax burdens. We need to be proactive in attracting business into Vermont. I don't know about you but I am getting sick of hearing this same line over and over again. Vermonters need to demand that we concentrate on this issue and stop raising so much uncertainty for very businesses we wish to grow or move to Vermont."

On health care, he wrote, "I am in favor of the Health Care Exchanges but I am against (at this time) Single Payer Health Care. I say "at this time" because I see single payer as an idea not a fact driven bill. Once we answer the questions with facts I could change my direction."

Eckhardt added that he does not favor wind energy.

"I am very concerned about our energy rates and the ideology that is being used to push this forward," he wrote. The subsidies we have promised are raising our electric rates to among the very highest in the country. We say we want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil as well clean up our air. Industrial wind does neither."

Eckahrdt added that he researched solar panels for his home and did not find them particularly helpful, but might consider heat pumps. He intends to keep constituent service and communication as a top priority for his district.

Gallivan said she would bring "positive energy" to the state House.
"I enjoy looking at the big picture issues and working constituents on solutions that work for our communities," she wrote. "I am a listener and a researcher, and I will be dedicated to participating fully in the legislative session."

Gallivan said she believes health care should be the Legislature's chief concern.
"Health care reform is paramount," she wrote. "As of 2010, Vermont health care costs had grown from about 10 percent to 20 percent in eighteen years. In the same period, education spending grew from just over 5 percent to about 6 percent. And health costs continue to spiral. By moving toward single payer, the costs of health care delivery will cut out high-profit administrative costs, and lead to improvement in health care. Cost for individuals will shift, and its aim is to provide a better balance for all."

Gallivan added, "Green Mountain Care is moving us in the right direction."

Like Eckhardt, Gallivan is against wind power.
"Wind energy sounds like a great concept, she wrote, "but as an attendee at local meetings for the Grandpa's Knob proposal, I became aware of the large scale consequences of ridge line proposals.  Destruction of landscape and habitat, negative health effects for close neighbors, and aesthetic changes to the panoramas (precious assets to Vermont) are all reasons to retreat from such sites." 

Gallivan said she would favor more solar development.
"Solar energy is a great way to diversify our sources of energy," she wrote. "New companies which lease or sell systems that guarantee lower costs with low environmental impact offer new options for homeowners and businesses. Though we have fewer days of sunshine than many other parts of the country, this supplemental energy will reduce our reliance on nuclear plants and coal. Geothermal seems like an exceptional opportunity for new home construction."

Gallivan said she wants to see the schools strengthened.
"The top priority should be to work toward preserving our strong school programs to ensure that they survive current low enrollments" she wrote. "They should fill to capacity once again, contributing to vibrant communities. Education is an investment that strengthens the economy.  Current costs statewide are under control, but funding sources should be rebalanced. If this is done, Vermont can reduce reliance on property taxes."

More information can be found on her Web site,

Rutland-Windsor 2 (1 rep) Ludlow, Mount Holly and Shrewsbury
Redistricting has put two incumbents against one another in the same district. Republican Dennis Devereux of Belmont and Cutingsville Democrat Eldred French. Devereux is running for his fourth term, while French is running for his third.