Town clerk: Party support unusual in local campaign
BENNINGTON -- Six people ran for two seats on the Select Board this year, which is not unusual, but there was something different about one of the campaigns.
Rachael Fields, who came in third overall with 799 votes, was backed by Vermont Working Families Party, which is based in Montpelier.
"I think the unusual part about it is an outside group put that kind of time and effort into a local Select Board election," said Town Clerk Tim Corcoran, who served for 21 years on the Bennington Select Board after being elected in 1973. "I cannot remember any outside group based in a completely different town putting in that time and effort."
He said Fields' campaign was perfectly legal and it's up to each candidate how they manage their election efforts.
Fields said she was contacted within a week of Town Meeting Day (March 4) by the Working Families, which offered to pay for postcards to be sent to those who voted in the last election. Fields said she does not yet know how much the mailings cost, but expects Working Families to tell her so she can report it to the Vermont Secretary of State. Fields said her campaign received more than $500, so it must be reported to the state within 10 days of the election.
"I'm really honored and feel great that the Working Families party supported me," said Fields, who is a member of the Vermont State Employees Association and LNA at the Vermont Veterans Home.
Fields said three different postcards were sent to voters, but that was the extent of the party's help. She and some friends made phone calls and canvassed neighborhoods, dropping off fliers supporting her candidacy.
As a person with a full-time job, Fields said she was grateful for all the help she received.
The backing Fields received did not sit well with another candidate.
Michael Keane, who was elected to the select board after receiving 964 votes, said Tuesday he was grateful to those who voted for him and, "I'm also grateful that two of us, Justin Corcoran and myself, were able to obtain more votes than a candidate who was supported by out-of-town money and out-of-town resources."
Corcoran, the incumbent, was the top vote-getter, receiving 1,056 votes.
Prior to election day, Keane remarked on the postcards sent by the Working Families Party on the Banner's Facebook page.
"As a Bennington Select Board candidate, I'm surprised that out-of-town money and resources are being spent to support the campaign of another candidate, Rachael Fields," he wrote. "My understanding is that local elections don't usually draw that kind of financial support. It seems against the grain for statewide organizations to come in."
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.
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