Windham voters pick state reps in primary

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BELLOWS FALLS — Rep. Kelley Tully, D-Rockingham was denied a possible return to the State House Tuesday, with Democratic voters opting for Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, and challenger Leslie Goldman, a Rockingham Democrat in the Windham 3 legislative district.

Goldman, vice chairwoman of the Windham County Democratic Committee, was the top vote getter in the six-town district. Goldman received 804 votes, with Partridge tallying 771 votes. Tully was last with 689 votes.

"I'm happy, I'm surprised," said Goldman in a telephone interview Wednesday morning.

The two-seat district includes Rockingham, Grafton, Athens, Brookline, Windham and North Westminster.

Goldman said people in the district are really concerned about health care, Act 46 and education, and the opening of schools. She said people are very concerned about the small businesses in Vermont, and how they are going to recover from the economic shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Goldman said she worked hard during the primary, but not in a usual campaign such as going door to door.

Goldman said she had lots of lawn signs and sent postcards to probable voters in the primary, and she said she studied the secretary of state's elections website, and followed up with those voters who had requested absentee ballots but hadn't returned them. She and her volunteers called and supplied information.

Goldman, a retired nurse practitioner, said several people mentioned to her the fact that Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, had appointed Tully rather than herself, who was the top vote getter in the Windham-3 district caucus this winter." He appointed someone more consistent with his philosophy, which is not consistent with Windham-3," said Goldman. "People said to me, 'It wasn't right.'"

But Goldman said the three candidates were "three very different people, three excellent, capable people."

According to Rockingham Town Clerk Kathleen Neathawk, the vast majority of Rockingham voters sent their ballots by mail. At the new Rockingham polling place at the Bellows Falls Fire Station, voters had the choice of walk-in or drive-by voting.

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Partridge, who has represented the towns in the Windham 3 district for more than 20 years, said she was a little nervous when the Rockingham results came in Tuesday evening and she was in third place, behind the two Rockingham women.

On top of that, it was clear that there had been targeted "bullet" voting in Rockingham, with voters just choosing one candidate, rather than the full slate of two.

But Partridge said the Grafton brought her back up much closer to Goldman.

Partridge, the chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee and a Windham sheep farmer and fabric artist, said she had offered advice to both candidates but didn't endorse one over the other. "I was glad to answer any questions they had," said Partridge.

Voters, she said, are most concerned about the state recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the effects of climate change.

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Tully was appointed in March by Scott to the seat left vacant by the resignation of Rep. Matthew Trieber, D-Rockingham. She said Wednesday she had only been in the State House once since her appointment - when she was sworn in with only her older brother as a witness.

The Legislature has been meeting remotely via Zoom since then. She said she had no plans to run as an independent despite her defeat, but she said she was definitely thinking of running again in 2022.

She said if she had one regret in the campaign it was not making it clear how she was different from Partridge and Goldman, and had more of a business background. Tully, who is also a registered nurse, is currently vice president of her family's business, Cota & Cota Oil, based in Bellows Falls.

"It was a great opportunity," she said of her short tenure. "I may be First Loser, but Rockingham had three great women candidates to choose from," she said.

WINDHAM-4

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Democratic voters from Putney, Westminster and Dummerston chose Rep. Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney and newcomer Michelle Bos-Lun of Westminster to run in the General Election in November in a five-person field during Tuesday's Primary election.

Mrowicki posted an easy win and topped the field with 1,633 votes to Bos-Lun's second place finish of 1,515, according to results posted by the Vermont Secretary of State for Windham-4.

Finishing far behind were Matt Ingram of Putney, David Ramos of Westminster and Robert DePino, also of Westminster.

Ingram had 197 votes, Ramos 135 votes and DePino 71 votes..

The Democrats were vying to fill the spot left by Rep. Nader Hashim, D-Dummerston, a former Vermont State Police trooper, who decided not to seek a second term. Hashim, who resigned from the state police because of his State House duties, said that financial considerations were behind his decision. He is now reading for the law at a Brattleboro law firm.

Bos-Lun hosted a Zoom celebration party Tuesday evening with family members and childhood friends cheering her on.

Mrowicki was the top vote getter in his hometown of Putney and Dummerston, while Bos-Lun came in first in Westminster.

In Westminster, Bos-Lun garnered 537 votes, Mrowicki 510 votes.

Bos-Lun thanked her crew of volunteers during the Zoom meeting, which was chaired by her son Aaron Bos-Lun. She said that her campaign had between 40 to 50 volunteers, and she thanks Rights & Democracy for its help with her campaign.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.


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