New faces head to statehouse

Campaign signs outside of Fairfield’s polling place on Election Day 2018.

ST. ALBANS — There were few surprises in Tuesday’s elections which ended with comfortable victories for all but one incumbent, and some new faces headed to Montpelier.

Wednesday morning the results in the Franklin-7 House seat representing Enosburgh and Montgomery remained a nail-biter. Republican challenger Felisha Leffler went from losing by three votes to winning by 95 in her race to unseat incumbent Democrat and Progressive Cindy Weed. The Secretary of State’s website had initially reported Weed winning because two digits were transposed when Montgomery reported its totals, according to Leffler. The final count reported Leffler with 885 votes and Weed with 790.

“I’m so grateful to everybody that showed up,” said Leffler. “It’s incredible.”

Leffler’s win shifts the make-up of the Franklin County legislative delegation, which went from three Democratic representatives in the House to just two, St. Albans City’s Mike McCarthy and Berkshire’s Charen Fegard.

However, Leffler’s election will not prevent the Democrats and Progressives from having a veto-proof majority in the House, where Republicans now hold just 43 seats out of 150.

On the Senate side, an open seat was claimed by Republican Corey Parent, who currently represents Franklin 3-1 in the House.

Parent, who was younger than most of the county’s legislative delegation, said his campaign was one of several to send a younger generation to Montpelier.

“I think last night was the night that Franklin County said it was ready for a new generation of leadership,” Parent said.

Incumbent Republican Randy Brock was once again the top vote getter in the two-person race to represent Franklin County, receiving 9,411 votes. Parent received 9,374.

Democrat Pam McCarthy, running for the first time, received 7,001 votes with fellow Democratic newcomer Dustin Tanner drawing 4,340 votes.

The Franklin County senate district includes Alburgh, but does not include Montgomery and Richford, which are part of the Essex-Orleans district. Their senators will remain Bobby Starr and John Rodgers, both of whom received the nod from the Democratic and Republican parties.

While Franklin County’s Senate delegation remained Republican with the election of Corey Parent and the re-election of Randy Brock, the Republicans have lost a seat in the state Senate, now having just six of the 30 seats.

There were five open House seats in the county.

In Franklin 3-1, two open seats representing St. Albans City and a slice of St. Albans Town were filled by Republican Casey Toof and Democrat Mike McCarthy.  Town voters gave Toof the nod. He received 551 votes, followed by fellow Republican Jim Fitzgerald with 391. McCarthy came in third in the town with 352 votes, with Democratic newcomer Kate Larose winning 310.

In the city, however, Larose was the top vote-getter, receiving 1,015 votes with McCarthy close behind at 1,003. Toof picked up 900 city votes and Fitzgerald 705.

“I was able to run the campaign I wanted to,” Toof said Wednesday morning. “I was able to do that because of all the support I had.”

Franklin-5 also chose a Democrat and a Republican, both from Berkshire, to fill two empty seats, giving the nod to Republican Josh Aldrich and Democrat Charen Fegard.

Aldrich, of Berkshire, carried Highgate and Franklin, while coming in fourth in Berkshire and Richford. However, his margin in Highgate was enough to put him over the top. He led the final tally with 1,206 votes.

“Things went very well,” Aldrich said. “I think it was a pretty good race… and it’s time to serve the people.”

Fegard won Berkshire, came in fourth in Highgate and second in both Franklin and Richford, winning a total 1,067 votes.

“I do feel really honored by the people who voted for me,” said Fegard.

Richford selectboard chair Linda Collins, an independent, came in fourth with 942 votes behind another Richford candidate, Shane Rhodes, who picked up 957. Democrat Daniel Nadeau received 663 votes.

The race was not without controversy with Fegard pointing out that a letter to the Messenger endorsing Aldrich and Rhodes was signed by a purported Highgate resident of whom the town has no record.

Also controversial were coupons for Aldrich’s bottle redemption business urging recipients to vote for Aldrich and Rhodes that supporters handed out outside polling places in all four places. Calling it a possible violation of election law, Will Senning, head of elections at the Secretary of State’s office, referred the matter to the Attorney General.

Aldrich told the Messenger he had checked with the state about the legality of the coupons before distributing them. After speaking with Senning, he told the Messenger he threw them away.

The final open House seat was in Franklin-6 where Republican James Gregoire defeated Democrat Kelly Cummings 1,122-853. Gregoire, who owns the Fairfield Market, carried Fairfield and Bakersfield, with Cummings winning her home town of Fletcher.

In Georgia, incumbent Republican Carl Rosenquist defeated his Democratic challenger Ed Simon, 1,297- 749.

St. Albans Town incumbent Lynn Dickinson also coasted to victory over independent challenger David McWilliams, 1,215-560.

Things were a little closer for Fairfax’s independent incumbent Barbara Murphy, who defeated her Republican challenger Mary Beerworth 1,079-961. In 2016, Murphy defeated Beerworth by just 58 votes.

In Sheldon and Swanton, incumbent Republicans Brian Savage and Marianna Gamache won re-election. Savage was once again the top vote getter, receiving 1,793 votes with 1,486 for Gamache.

Democratic newcomer Nick Brosseau received 1,053 votes.

Final totals are not available for Tammie Consejo who announced a last minute write-in campaign for the seat in October. Total write-ins for the two towns totals 106.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:25 p.m. to reflect that the margin between Weed and Leffler is 95 votes, not 25 as the Messenger initially reported.

Recommended for you