Editor of the Reformer:

It has been an honor to serve Windham County for the past two years as an assistant judge. Public service has been a major part of my life for much of the last 40 years. After serving in the Navy I came home to work in the machine tool industry, but soon realized that it was in decline and would not be a long-term career. In 1989 I helped start a retail business in downtown Bellows Falls, The Rock and Hammer Jewelry Store, with my partner of 25 years, Pamela Parant. The economy was in a downturn, a number of long-time retailers where retiring or just closing, the community was in trouble. I felt we needed to do more to help the community than just opening a store, and thus began the second phase of my public service. I served on the Selectboard for 14 years, eight as chairman. We worked hard to get the community back on track. I served on many other committees, including the Third Century Task Force, the Board of Civil Authority, Justice of the Peace, Bellows Falls Area Development Corp, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Chamber of Commerce, Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance, Rockingham Old Home Days, Windham County Democratic Committee, and the Opera House Committee.

In 2011 I was appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin to the Vermont Housing Finance Authority Board of Commissioners. Its mission is to provide housing opportunities to low and moderate income Vermonters. VHFA has a total loan portfolio of about $900 million.


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This year we will loan out approximately $60 million for single and multifamily housing.

In July 2012, I was elected by the Windham County Democratic Committee to fill the vacancy of assistant judge. The committee sent my name to Gov. Shumlin for his consideration and I was confirmed in August 2012. I have worked well with Windham County’s other assistant judge, Patricia Duff. Mostly, we sit as a three judge panel with a presiding judge on divorces, parental rights and responsibilities and relief from abuse cases. We carefully deliberate, and decide the outcome of the cases based on the evidence and testimony of witnesses taken under oath while in the courtroom.

Judge Duff and I also present a budget each year to the people of Windham County to operate and maintain the county courthouse and the Sheriff’s Department. We set a county tax rate based on those needs. We are currently working on a number of issues of importance. The county courthouse in Newfane needs significant work on heating, fire and life safety, as well as ADA compliance. We are very involved in cases of domestic abuse, and recently have been working with other organizations to create a much needed child visitation center in the Brattleboro area.

With your support on Aug. 26, I will continue to work hard for Windham County as one of your assistant judges. For more information go to www.votelamont.com.

Lamont Barnett,

Bellows Falls, Aug. 15

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Editor of the Reformer:

I am voting for Roger Allbee for Windham County State Senate on Aug. 26.

Roger has served our country in the U.S. Army in special weapons with the rank of Captain. He has served our community as the chief executive officer and administrator of Grace Cottage Hospital/Carlos G. Otis Health Care Center in Townshend. And he served our state as secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

He has the background, experience and commitment to serve us in the state Senate. And, once you meet him you recognize that he has a way to bring people with differing viewpoints together to get a mix of ideas and approaches to work through issues. I have attended various forums and believe that he can work with any of the other three candidates to the benefit of Windham County.

Please join with me in electing Roger Allbee as our new Windham County state senator.

Marty Cohn,

Brattleboro, Aug. 17

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Editor of the Reformer:

With the general election for state Senate in Windham County basically uncontested, it can be easy to overlook how important next week’s Democratic primary is. Don’t make that mistake. The winners of the primary will be our state senators in the coming term, and that it why we feel it is so important to turn out to vote, and to vote for incumbent Senator Jeanette White.

In her 12 years in the Senate, Jeanette has proven to be a collaborative and collegial legislator. She has built productive relationships and developed deep experience, working hard for all Vermonters on issues such as health care and education reform, while paying particular attention to issues of concern to her constituents, such as legislation regarding GMO labeling, death with dignity, and medical marijuana.

It is easy to enumerate the various initiatives Jeanette has pursued on behalf of Windham County, from job creation to tourism and transportation projects, but the more important point is that Jeanette embodies the best virtues of a citizen legislator: she listens well, thinks deeply, considers all sides of an issue, and works hard to develop collaboration and consensus on the issues that matter most to her constituents and to the people of Vermont.

We got to know Jeanette when she was first elected to the Senate 12 years ago, along with our husband and father, Rod Gander. Rod was a moderate Democratic and of a different generation, and he came to respect Jeanette enormously. Working with her was one of the great pleasures of his long professional career, and Jeanette’s kindness toward him in his later years was of inestimable value.

Jeanette has done such a fine job for 12 years that her re-election should go without saying, but in a contested primary with a candidate coming in from the other party, we worry about the potential that a low turn-out could harm her chances, and urge you to vote for her next week.

Isabelle and Mac Gander,

Brattleboro, Aug. 19

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Editor of the Reformer:

I have known Becca Balint for more than 10 years. She and I worked together at Guilford Central School for three years and I can honestly say she is one of the most gifted teachers I have ever known. And the qualities that serve her so well in her profession of teaching are those very ones which will now translate into helping her become a state senator of the highest caliber.

Her ability to listen, to communicate effectively, to advocate, to understand all sides of an issue before coming to a thoughtful conclusion are just some of the many positive characteristics she exhibited consistently in the classroom, and as part of a collaborative team of teachers and staff members.

Becca’s intelligence, energy, intellectual curiosity, creativity and her ability to make connections, combined with her genuine respect, compassion and sense of fairness for every human being, are what make Rebecca, in my opinion, a leader. She will speak out and she will speak up.

Becca will be a representative who will follow through. She will tirelessly advocate for excellence of education, single payer health care, fair taxation, sustainable energy, mental health parity, new economic and increased job opportunities. She will do this with a sense of balance and integrity.

If you have already or were to read one of Becca’s Tuesday columns in the Reformer, you have appreciated or soon would her ability to intertwine and then relate cultural, historical, philosophical and educational issues and ideas with clarity and insight; often touching, sometimes humorous, ever heartfelt.

Windham County needs Rebecca Balint. We are fortunate she is willing to run. We will be even more fortunate if she becomes our new voice in the Legislature. I hope you will join me in voting for Rebecca Balint in the upcoming Democratic Primary on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Harriet Stewart Virkstis,

Dummerston, Aug. 19

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Editor of the Reformer:

Joan Bowman is the only non-incumbent candidate for a Windham County senate seat who will be able to hit the ground running when the next stage of Vermont’s health care reform process moves forward.

The reasons are simple. Joan has already established working relationships with key legislators who will most likely return to their positions in January. She has also cultivated collegial relationships with health care policymakers as well as other advocates. It takes years to develop those relationships. That means that constituents will not have to wait to be best represented while a Senator who is new to the current political health care world goes to school. Joan has been to that school and has graduated with honors.

It is time for her to use her education in the service of the people of Windham County. All of the candidates are intelligent, energetic people. Only one candidate can do what has to be done, when it has to be done.

Richard Davis,

Guilford, Aug. 20

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Editor of the Reformer:

I have always admired Vermont for its decent politics, so when I learned what occurred at a senate forum in Windham the other night, it really upset me.

First, in full disclosure, I have been working on Sen. Jeanette White’s reelection campaign. Second, when the Windham forum was organized, Jeanette let everyone know she could not attend due to a family commitment in Maine. People in Windham wanted to change the date, but others insisted it go forward. Remarkably, a chair was placed at the table for Jeanette, even though everyone knew she couldn’t be there.

I did not attend this forum, but several people independently told me that during his opening statement, Roger Albee pointed to the empty chair and said, "That Senator has said we have to develop many ridgelines in Vermont," which is not Jeanette’s position. She believes that all types of generation should be in the mix, and that some ridgelines may have to be sacrificed. Becca Balint attempted to correct Roger, but according to witnesses, he angrily persisted.

Clint Eastwood imitations in Vermont? Really? We expect a little more integrity in these parts, and thank you, Becca, for displaying some.

Lynn Bedell,

Williamsville, Aug. 20

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Editor of the Reformer:

The majority of Windham County voters agree that our senators should be persons with experience, knowledge, and integrity. One such candidate stands out above the rest -- Roger Allbee.

Roger is a native Vermonter with deep roots in our community; and, as our recent Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, he has been an advocate for the Working Landscape Initiative for agriculture and forestry. He has worked to bring jobs to our county and is working to increase our tourism income.

Roger Allbee is also an expert on health care in our county. He is the chief executive officer of Grace Cottage Hospital, and is deeply involved in the needs of patients and providers -- and especially interested in the process of the developing single payer system.

Roger Allbee is a veteran, holds a masters degree, and is the chairman of the Advisory Committee to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont.

If we want a Senator with experience, knowledge, and vision for Windham County, we want -- no, we need -- Roger Allbee.

Stephen McConnel,

Townshend, Aug. 21

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Editor’s note: The Reformer has received numerous letters of support for almost every candidate on the ballot for the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 26. We have also received letters of support for candidates who are running for state offices but won’t be on the ballots until the primary election in November. The Reformer will make every effort to run as many of the letters as possible, but will not be printing any more campaign letters after Aug. 23. However, letters that haven’t been printed will still be posted at www.reformer.com.