redistricts

Bennington Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau announces the results of a recent election. Some voters and legislative candidates will see new House district borders this year, after a statewide redistricting process to conform to population results in the 2020 federal census.

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BENNINGTON — Candidates for office and many voters will find their legislative borders altered this fall, after statewide redistricting to reflect population gains and losses in the 2020 federal census.

Among the more sweeping changes resulted in a change to one of the two Bennington House districts. It will now see a swath of eastern Pownal and the former Pownal/Woodford House district being expanded eastward to include Readsboro, Stamford and Searsburg.

The Pownal changes also significantly affected Rep. Laura Sibilia’s Windham-Bennington district, now called Windham 2, which lost those three communities. She said Thursday that she had opposed the new configuration as approved by the Legislature.

“Stamford, Readsboro, Dover and I fought against this change,” she said in an email. “The Windham-Bennington District — a population-stable district — has been dissolved and dismantled against my constituents’ wishes.”

Sibilia, an independent from West Dover, added, “I am running again. I will be deciding in the next week for which chamber,” referring to a possible Senate bid.

Her town is within the Windham Senate district.

Sibilia’s Windham 2 House district now includes Dover, Jamaica, Somerset, Stratton and Wardsboro.

BITE OUT OF POWNAL

In the Bennington 1 district, Democratic Rep. Nelson Brownell has represented Pownal and Woodford, but the district now includes the three towns to the east and no longer includes a section of Pownal roughly along the eastern side down to Barber Pond Road. That section was added to the two-member Bennington 5 district.

Brownell said Thursday he would have preferred to keep just Pownal and Woodford but added, “I think this will work out well.”

He said he sees advantages in representing a group of small towns that often have similar concerns, such as forestry and ancient roads, and he also believes Woodford favored a small-town alignment over being a small town paired with a larger one.

Having Pownal now associated with a newly formed two-member Bennington House district — Bennington 5 — also could help his home town in some cases, Brownell said, depending on the issues.

His overriding goal, now that the Legislature is adjourned, he said, is to spend some time on the road, meeting people in his new towns.

RACES EMERGING

Two Democrats have announced for the Bennington 5 House seat, including incumbent Rep. Michael Nigro and challenger and former Rep. Jim Carroll, who is seeking a return to the Legislature. Both candidates reside in Bennington.

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The other announced candidate in the two-seat district now including part of Pownal is incumbent Republican Rep. Mary Morrissey, of Bennington.

The newly configured Bennington 2 district, which has incumbents Rep. Timothy Corcoran II and Dane Whitman, both Democrats, takes up roughly the other three-fourths of Bennington, bordering on New York to the west, Shaftsbury to the north and the section of Pownal in the Bennington 1 district to the south.

VOTER ASSISTANCE

Bennington Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau said her office will provide information about the changes.

“We will have a map in the vestibule on Primary Day,” she said. “I also try to stand somewhere near the entrance to help. We also have a link on our election page on the town website.”

She added, “Most people are not having a change in their district lines, only the name of the district. The [Election Day] set-up will be the same as usual. If people usually go to the first table (formerly district 1), they will still go to the first table. And same with the second table.”

Will Senning, director of elections and campaign finance with the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, said voters also can find information about the entire reapportionment process and the new district lines on the Legislature’s website.

OTHER HOUSE DISTRICTS

Rep. Kelly Pajala, I-South Londonderry, is running again but in a reconfigured district — the Windham-Bennington-Windsor district, which will now have Winhall, Londonderry, Andover and Weston.

The Bennington 3 district has Shaftsbury, Glastenbury and a portion of Sunderland. Incumbent Democrat David Durfee faces a challenge from Republican Victor Harwood.

The Bennington 4 district includes Arlington, Manchester, Sandgate and a section of Sunderland. Incumbents Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz, both Democrats, are seeking reelection in the two-seat district.

The Bennington-Rutland district includes Dorset, Landgrove, Peru, Danby and Mount Tabor. Incumbent Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan said she is not running for another term.

However, Mike Rice, of Dorset, has announced he will run for the seat as a Democrat.

Maps of all the new House and Senate districts can be found on the Legislature’s website.

Potential major party candidates have until May 26 to submit nomination papers for the primaries on Aug. 9.

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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