BENNINGTON — The Bennington County Democratic Committee has nominated a former Superior Court clerk to fill a local judgeship vacancy in response to the governor’s search for candidates.
During a virtual meeting Thursday, the committee nominated Mary Frost as assistant judge in Bennington County, a position that opened up in October when the incumbent retired.
“Mary was just above and beyond qualified,” committee Chairman Tom Haley said, adding that two other people expressed interested in the position but didn’t get nominated. At least 15 voting members of the committee attended the video conference Thursday evening. And they got an opportunity to review the resumes of the interested parties beforehand, Haley said.
The committee has since forwarded Frost’s name to the governor’s office, he said.
Frost, 67, of Shaftsbury, retired as Superior Court clerk for the county in 2015 after five years on the job. Prior to that, she was manager of the court’s criminal and family divisions from 2003-2010, according to a copy of her resume that was provided by the committee.
Frost indicated that she joined the legal field in the early ‘70s, and for the next three decades worked in various law firms throughout Vermont as legal secretary and paralegal. Since retiring, Frost said she has done some consulting work for the state judiciary. When she found out through the Banner that Assistant Judge Wes Mook had retired, Frost thought being able to take on the role would allow her to give back to the community.
“It’s a good use of my skill set,” she said in an interview. “It would allow me to get back into the court system that I love so much and have a lot of respect for.”
Frost added that she also has worked with the remaining assistant judge, James Colvin.
Each Vermont county has two assistant judges, colloquially known as “side judges,” because they sit beside the presiding Superior Court judge in certain civil and family court cases. Assistant judges don’t need to be lawyers.
Besides their judicial roles, assistant judges also serve administrative functions in the county, such as putting together a budget that contributes to the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department funding as well as money to maintain county buildings.
After Mook’s retirement, the governor’s office said it was seeking three nominees for the vacancy by the end of 2020. The appointee is required by law to come from the party of the previous office holder; in this case, the Democratic Party.
Whoever is appointed to replace Mook will hold his position until the next generation election, in November 2022. The choice ultimate rests with the governor; Scott is not obligated to select someone recommended by the county committee.
Haley said getting members of the committee together hadn’t been possible until after the holidays. The committee’s search, he said, involved members’ reaching out to about 20 people whom they thought were qualified and asked them to consider the judgeship job.
If Gov. Scott is disappointed that the committee wasn’t able to submit three names, Haley said the outcome was beyond their control. “We did our best,” he said.