In Windham County, new state representatives named, voter turnout high
BRATTLEBORO -- Windham County has two new state representatives.
Independent Tim Goodwin won a tough campaign over fellow independent Emmett Dunbar in the Windham-Bennington-Windsor state House District, while Democrat Tristan Toleno easily gained his first term representing Brattleboro District 3.
The three-county House district, which includes the towns of Jamaica, Londonderry and Stratton in Windham County, was up for grabs after Republican state Rep. Oliver Olsen did not seek another term.
Olsen had endorsed Goodwin, who won four of the district's five towns including Dunbar's hometown of Londonderry. Districtwide, Goodwin won 1,298 votes compared with Dunbar's 1,013, according to results released late Tuesday by the Vermont secretary of state.
"I'm pleased. It was a good race," Goodwin said. "I know I worked hard, and I'm certain that Emmett did as well. It was a humbling experience."
Goodwin, a resident of Weston, Windsor County, said he believed his emphasis on economic development may have resonated with voters.
Dunbar, whose sole victory came in Jamaica, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Toleno had no issue with Liberty Union candidate Ian Diamondstone in the Brattleboro state House race. Toleno garnered 1,390 votes compared with Diamondstone's 171.
Toleno, a Brattleboro businessman who defeated Kate O'Connor in the Aug. 28 primary, said he's looking forward to heading for Montpelier.
"I'm really glad to be preparing to make the transition to the next step," Toleno said. "I ran because I believe in this town, and I believe I can contribute to this town."
Also cruising past Liberty Union opposition were Democratic state Sens. Peter Galbraith and Jeanette White along with Democratic state Reps. David Deen and Mike Mrowicki in the Windham 4 state House District.
All other Windham County state representatives were unopposed.
While there were a variety of statewide races, it was the presidential campaign that drove up turnout -- even in a Democratic state where the outcome of that campaign was not in doubt.
Paula Collins of Rockingham said she voted straight Democrat. She had voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and national issues were on her mind Tuesday.
Collins said she would be concerned about seniors' rights and social services under a Mitt Romney presidency. She also doesn't want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
"That's a very big item for me. I'm not an advocate for abortion, but I believe that women have the right," Collins said.
Kathy Bell, declaring that voting is a "responsibility," said she was an Obama supporter as she left the Rockingham polls.
"The campaign has been about the negatives, and I think there have been more positives than negatives," Bell said. "I don't think anybody can do it all in four years."
A voter in Brattleboro who gave his name only as "Henry" also was an Obama supporter.
"My son is in the military, and he is defending our right to vote," he said. "I'd like to see Obama continue to do what he is doing."
Not everyone, however, was so focused on the national campaign.
"Town politics are just as important as national politics," said Ginny Irish after voting at Brattleboro Union High School. "Town government is a part of the government, and I come out to vote whenever I can."
Megan Becker said she votes in every election.
"I think my vote is more important at the local level, but I always vote," she said. "I am glad to be here."
Town clerks had seen large numbers of early voters casting ballots since late September, and the relatively high turnout seem to carry over into Election Day.
Four years ago, 187 absentee ballots were returned in Dover. That year, 797 ballots were counted in total, and that was a record for the town.
By Tuesday, 189 absentee ballots had been submitted.
"Looks like we may beat the record," said Town Clerk Andy McLean.
Residents could cast their vote earlier Tuesday than in previous years. The East Dover Town Hall opened at 7 a.m., and 127 people had voted by 10 a.m.
Overall, McLean expected 70 percent of the town's registered voters to cast ballots.
"Dover people like to vote," he said.
Wilmington Town Clerk Susie Haughwout said voter turnout would be slightly lower than it was in 2008. Wilmington has experienced population loss: The town had 2,225 residents in the 2000 census and 1,876 in the 2010 census.
"It's feeling less busy," Haughwout said. "It might have to do with the population drop."
Residents voted at Twin Valley High School, where Haughwout said officials were prepared for 1100 voters.
Rockingham Town Clerk Doreen Aldrich said 1,477 people had voted as of 4 p.m. She also said there were 468 requests for absentee ballots, and only 26 of them had not been returned.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
Reformer staff writers Domenic Poli, Chris Mays and Howard Weiss-Tisman contributed to this report.
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