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Brattleboro Reformer - A Look at Local Political Contests

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Location: Guilford, VT

Brattleboro Reformer - A Look at Local Political Contests

Richard Davis

There are a few hot local political races, but the one for state senate is not at the top of the list. Liberty Union Party candidate Aaron Diamondstone is challenging incumbents Peter Shumlin and Jeanette White. Diamondstone has put some effort into the race, but it is clear that Shumlin and White will continue to serve.

Shumlin will surely retain his position as President Pro Tem of the Senate and that is good for Windham County. It is a position of power and influence and Shumlin is a seasoned political insider.

White has slowly become an able legislator and she is committed and passionate and she works hard. I have found that if you have an issue that needs a legislative voice then you can count on White to help you out. You can't ask for more than that.

In the Windham 5 district there are three candidates vying for two House seats. Steve Darrow came in third (lost) the Democratic primary, but got enough Republican write-in votes to be on the ballot as a Republican.

Democrats Mike Mrowicki and David Deen would like to keep their seats and it is clear that Deen will. He has served for many years and is extremely well respected for his insight and intelligence and he is a hard-working advocate for environmental issues.

Mrowicki has served one term and he is vulnerable in this election. He has focused on human service issues and health care and he has done a good job as a first-term

Darrow is perhaps the most knowledgeable person, inside and outside of government, on energy issues and on nuclear power in particular. He is no fan of Vermont Yankee and that makes him a valuable asset in the Legislature. But he did lose the primary and local voters have a sense of justice that may translate into a lack of votes.

First-term Rep. John Moran is a Democrat who narrowly defeated Republican Philip Bartlett in the Windham-Bennington 1 district two years ago. Moran has been tireless in his efforts to become a full-time, full-service legislator. It is a tough district to run in because it is so diverse politically.

Bartlett wants to win back the seat he lost. He is well-connected in the area and represents the "old guard" of very local politics. He has boasted of helping to get money for local road and bridge projects while he served in the House. I have found him to be insular and territorial. When I interviewed candidates a few years ago, he refused to talk to me because he said none of his constituents reads the Reformer. It was a short conversation.

The contest in Windham-Bennington-Windsor 1 is heated. Long-time Republican incumbent Rick Hube is being challenged by Democrat Tom Buchanan. Hube is well liked in his district and he is another full-service representative. Hube is also an adept political insider. He is part of the House Republican internal power structure. He has forged relationships and worked the halls of Montpelier to the benefit of his constituents.

On the issues, Hube pretty much stays in line with Republican values. He believes the market will solve health care problems and he will support his party because he owes his power to them. These are not necessarily bad things if you agree with Hube.

Democratic challenger Buchanan offers a sea change in political values. He has run against Hube before, but it is hard to beat an incumbent who has been in office so long. Buchanan would clearly move away from the Douglas market-based approach to health care reform and he would owe nothing to party insiders. That is something to keep in mind.

Buchanan has served on many local boards and he understands issues that influence the lives of local voters. He also understands the business perspective. He may benefit from the high voter turnout and the Democratic Obama wave in Vermont, but that may not be enough to beat Hube.

A final comment on the governor's race. We have a rare opportunity to transform our state and our government. Douglas is a career politician who needs a job. People seem to forget that. He serves his friends well while the rest of us suffer as he often stabs us with his veto pen.

Anthony Pollina is smart and he has practical ideas for transforming our state. If Douglas only receives 40-45 percent of the vote and Pollina gets 35-40 percent then the Legislature would vote for the next governor.

In my fantasy scenario, the Legislature would be justified in electing Pollina because Douglas would have pretty much received a vote of no-confidence.

It may be a stretch, but as Pollina says, "Vote your hopes, not your fears."

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