GUILFORD and VERNON — Sara Coffey defeated Patrick Gilligan, 1,256 to 665 votes, to represent the towns of Guilford and Vernon in the Vermont House of Representatives, Windham-1 District. Guilford voted for Coffey by a margin of 807 to 230 and Vernon gave her 449 votes to Gilligan's 435.
"I'm feeling kind of elated and overwhelmed by all of it and full of gratitude to so many people who helped me do this. I definitely did not do this alone," said Coffey. She said more than 80 volunteers helped by distributing lawn signs and going door to door on her behalf. "It was a real grass-roots campaign."
Coffey said she plans to represent all the residents in Vernon and Guilford and not just those who voted for her.
"I want to do this so everyone benefits," she said. "I take that quite seriously and quite to heart. I plan to serve the same way I ran the campaign, in a very bipartisan manner."
Tim Arsenault, Vernon Town Clerk, said he had registered 12 new voters with same-day registration on election day.
He said he expected turnout to be in the 45 to 50 percent range.
"I would always wish it was more, but it's been steady all day long and that's a good sign," said Arsenault.
Penny Marine, Guilford Town Clerk, said she wasn't surprised by the high turnout because she had received more than 300 absentee ballots in advance of Tuesday.
"There have been times when it has been a little slower, but no real lulls."
Marine complimented the members of Guilford's Board of Civil Authority and the town staff members who assisted at the polls, characterizing them as "Very dedicated with a good attitude."
Kathleen Carpenter, who's lived in Vernon for four years, said she is more informed, though it's not unusual for her to vote in the midterms. She also said there's no excuse for not voting. "People who say I don't agree so I'm not going to vote, it's a cop out."
Mitch Turner, also of Vernon, said that though he is not a fan of the two-party system, it was still important for him to cast his vote.
"It's the only way you really are going to change anything," said Turner. "I feel like I am making a difference. If a lot of people don't vote because they think their vote doesn't count, but if everyone who thought that went and voted it would matter, it would change something."
Artie Ortiz, who recently moved to Vernon from Boston, agreed with Turner's sentiment. "Votes make a difference, whether it's one, two or three."
"It's important to have a voice," said Saskia Whallon, another Vernon resident.
Michael Alexander, of Guilford, cast his vote with his 11-year-old son, Gabe, in tow.
"It's as important as any mid-term in my lifetime," said Alexander.
Gabe said it's important to elect the right person, "Someone I support."
Belinda Sargent, also of Guilford, said she doesn't normally vote in the midterms, but decided to vote in 2018 because of "who our president is."
She said she was "absolutely disturbed" by the results of the 2016 election. "I wanted to make a difference in the midterms by voting my party."
Heather Beard, of Guilford, who voted with her toddler in her arms, said she voted because she thought it was important "to send a message. It's important to get out and show that you care about democracy."
Guilford Select Board member Verandah Porche said she was excited for the turnout.
"We've seen 12 first-time voters and some of them are kids I knew when they were school children," said Porche.
She was also excited that the polling station was in the Broad Brook Grange.
"This is the first public event that we have had in this building since renovations began," she said.
For state senator in Guilford, Becca Balint received 733 votes, Jeanette White received 640, Tyler Colford at 209, Bev Stone with 95, Aaron Diamondstone with 48 and Jerry Levy with 43. Christine Hallquist took the most votes for governor in Guilford, with 624 votes to Phil Scott's 351.
For state senator, votes in Vernon tallied up to 403 for Balint, 400 for White, 396 for Colford, 105 for Stone, 28 for Diamondstone and 19 for Levy. Scott received 544 votes to Hallquist's 281 votes in Vernon.
Guilford recorded 1,045 votes out of a checklist of 1,722 and Vernon recorded out 903 votes out of a checklist of 1,829.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or email@example.com.