LONDONDERRY -- The Windham-Bennington-Windsor-1 House district has a new state representative and his name is Charles "Tim" Goodwin.
In an unusual race with both Goodwin and his opponent, Emmett Dunbar, running as Independents, Goodwin defeated Dunbar on Tuesday with 1,298 votes to Dunbar’s 1,013.
"I am truly humbled and honored by the strong show of support," said Goodwin in a statement. "In a race with two independents, we didn’t have the distraction of party labels, so it really came down to who the voters felt was best qualified for the position. I want to thank everyone for participating in the process.
"Now the real work begins; the state is facing some big challenges, which I look forward to tackling as our next representative."
Goodwin carried four out of the five towns in his district: Londonderry, Stratton, Weston and Winhall, and lost to Dunbar in Jamaica by 225 to 207. He also took 56.1 percent of the vote to Dunbar’s 43.8 percent.
Goodwin replaces former state Rep. Oliver Olsen (R-Jamaica) who served as the treasurer for Goodwin’s campaign. Olsen was appointed to the Legislature in 2010 by then-Gov. James Douglas following the unexpected death of the district’s state representative, Rick Hube. Olsen was elected to serve a two-year termin November 2010. He chose not to seek re-election this year.
Three of the main issues facing the district are property taxes, economic development, and education funding. Olsen said he believed that Goodwin won the election in part because he stressed that those issues would be a priority if he was elected.
"School choice is always a big issue and that’s one issue that Tim really talked a lot about, the importance of protecting our school choice options," said Olsen. "Tim was very proactive about that issue and making it clear that he was going to be fighting back [against] some of the continuing attempts to control school choice whereas his opponent didn’t talk much about that."
Additionally, Olsen said he believed Goodwin’s experience, particularly in the areas of education and finance -- he served on both the Flood Brook and Weston school boards in the past and serves as a certified public accountant and as a lister in his hometown of Weston -- were significant factors in his election.
However, state Senator Robert Hartwell, D-Dorset, a supporter of Dunbar’s, had a different take on the factors.
"I think he had a stronger poll with Republican voters. I think he had a lot of help from the outgoing representative Oliver Olsen, who was clearly on Mr. Goodwin’s side and I think that was helpful. I think him (Olsen) being on Goodwin’s side was probably significant," Hartwell said. "It’s a district that usually elects a Republican. Rick Hube represented it for a long time and then Oliver Olsen represented it."
Hartwell said he believed voters in the five towns probably perceived Goodwin as being more aligned with the Republican Party and Dunbar as more of a Democrat. On the issues, Hartwell said he believes all the towns have an issue with how the property tax system works and that voters believed Goodwin would be the better choice to address those issues.
"It may be perception that he would be more aggressive and conservative on tax issues. Whether or not that’s true I don’t know," said Hartwell. "I think the perception was that he would be more in line with Republicans in dealing with taxation. That’s my guess in any event."
As of press time, attempts to reach Dunbar for comment were unsuccessful.