primaries

Voters cast ballots in a recent election. The Democratic and Republican lineups for the primary elections are now set.

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BENNINGTON — Vermont’s primary election lineup is set after Thursday’s deadline for candidates to qualify for the Aug. 9 Democratic or Republican primary ballots.

Among candidates filing recently was Brian W. Peat, of Bennington, who is seeking one of two open assistant Bennington County judge positions.

Incumbent Mary Frost, of Shaftsbury, a retired Superior Court clerk who was appointed last year to fill an assistant judgeship vacancy, is running for a full term.

Both candidates are running as Democrats and are unopposed in the primary election.

INDEPENDENT OPTION

Minor political parties still may nominate candidates for state or countywide offices, and independents have until Aug. 4 to qualify for the November election ballot.

Major party candidates also can opt to qualify for independent status, as well, prior to the Aug. 9 primary, and in that way guarantee a spot on the November ballot.

That happened in the 2020 races for Bennington County sheriff and state’s attorney.

“If a person were to win in the primary and had also filed as an independent, they are required to contact us to decide which way they appear on the general election ballot,” said Will Senning, director of Elections and Campaign Finance in the Secretary of State’s Office. “They can decline the party nomination and run as an independent, or they can withdraw their independent petition and accept the party nomination.”

3 FOR SHERIFF

This year, three candidates — Lt. Joel Howard of the Sheriff’s Department, Manchester Police Officer James Gulley Jr. and Beau Alexander Sr., who has worked in the probation and security fields, are running as Democrats for the post, seeking to replace outgoing Sheriff Chad Schmidt, who isn’t seeking reelection.

Gulley and Alexander ran unsuccessfully against Schmidt in the 2020.

State’s Attorney Erica Marthage, a Democrat, is the only primary candidate for that post.

Democrat Lon McClintock is seeking to replace Probate Division Judge D. Justine Scanlon, who is not seeking another term.

Incumbent High Bailiff Frederick Gilbar is being challenged for re-election by Will Greer, of Bennington, who could not be reached Friday for comment.

SENATE AND HOUSE

For the state Senate from Bennington County, incumbent Democrats Dick Sears and Brian Campion are the only major party candidates running.

In area House races, a contest for two seats in the newly drawn Bennington 5 district includes incumbent Rep. Michael Nigro and former Rep. Jim Carroll running as Democrats, and incumbent Republican Rep. Mary Morrissey vying for the two district openings.

Bennington 2 district incumbent Reps. Timothy Corcoran II and Dane Whitman, both Democrats, are running again in the two-seat district.

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In other local races, the Bennington 4 House incumbents, Rep. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz, both Manchester Democrats, are unopposed in the race for the district’s two seats.

Also unopposed through the primary season are Rep. Nelson Brownell, D-Pownal, in the newly drawn Bennington 1 district.

Mike Rice, of Dorset, intends to run for the Bennington-Rutland House seat as a Democrat, as does Liz Ruffa, also of Dorset; and Bill Gaiotti, of Mount Tabor, intends to run as a Republican.

Incumbent Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan, D-Dorset, is not running for another term in the Bennington-Rutland district, which includes Danby, Dorset, Landgrove, Mount Tabor and Peru.

Rep. David Durfee, D-Shaftsbury, is unopposed in the Democratic primary for the Bennington 3 district seat, as is Victor Harwood Jr., of Shaftsbury, in the Republican primary. Harwood unsuccessfully challenged Durfee in the 2020 election.

Independent Rep. Laura Sibilia is running in the newly created Windham 2 House district, which includes Dover, Jamaica, Somerset, Stratton and Wardsboro. Her district previously included Stamford, Readsboro and Searsburg, but those were added during the statewide redistricting to the new Bennington 1 district, which Brownell represents.

Independent Rep. Kelly Pajala, of Londonderry, is running again in the Windham-Bennington-Windsor House district.

ONLINE MAP

Senning said in an email that the Secretary of State’s Office now offers an interactive online map showing the legislative districts at arcg.is/L8mr90.

Districts statewide were reapportioned by the Legislature, as required every 10 years to reflect population figures in the federal Census.

ASSISTANT JUDGE

Peat, 53, the president of C.L. White Glass Inc. in Bennington, said Friday that he had considered seeking an assistant judge post when former Assistant Judge Wesley Mook retired, but decided he was too busy with his business and as chairman of the Bennington Rescue Squad board.

However, he is now in his last year as rescue squad chairman and also plans to step back from some business duties if elected assistant judge.

Peat said he and Frost have discussed the assistant judge position, and he hopes to bring his experience dealing with budgeting, construction and maintenance to the role to complement Frost’s extensive experience in the court system.

Assistant judges prepare and administer the county budget, while overseeing maintenance of the Bennington County Courthouse on South Street and the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department headquarters building.

Each Vermont county has two elected assistant judges, who aren’t required to be lawyers. Known as “side judges,” they sit beside a Superior Court judge in certain civil and family court cases.

With training, assistant judges also handle traffic tickets and uncontested divorces, but do not deal with criminal or juvenile cases.

The second Bennington County assistant judge position opened recently when James Colvin, of Bennington, said he wouldn’t seek election to another term.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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