hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News & Issues Election 2018 July 2018


Primary elections near in Vermont and Mass.


Primary elections on Aug. 14 in Vermont and Sept. 4 in Massachusetts will set the stage for statewide races this fall -- and will effectively determine the winner of several local positions that only one major party is contesting.

In Vermont, the most crowded contest locally is the five-way Republican race for three seats representing Rutland County in the state Senate. Incumbents Brian Collamore and David Soucy are competing with Ed Larson, a former Rutland city alderman; James McNeil, a former state representative; and Terry Williams, a Poultney selectman. Incumbent Republican Sen. Peg Flory is retiring. There are no candidates on the Democratic primary ballot for the three seats.
In statewide races, Republican Gov. Phil Scott is seeking a second term but faces an intraparty challenge from Keith Stern, a produce company owner who has criticized the governor’s push for newly enacted gun control provisions.

Four Democrats are competing to become their party’s nominee for governor: James Ehlers, the executive director of a nonprofit dedicated to Lake Champlain’s water quality; Christine Hallquist, the former chief executive of the Vermont Electric Cooperative; Brenda Siegel, the director of the Southern Vermont Dance Festival; and Ethan Sonneborn, a 14-year-old from Addison County who says he hopes to get more young people interested in politics.

Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is running in this month’s Democratic primary but faces an opponent in Folasade Adeluola, a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign who lives in Indiana but lists an address at a motel in Chittenden County.

Four candidates are competing in the Republican primary for Sanders’ Senate seat: Jasdeep Pannu, a lawyer from the Burlington area; Lawrence Zupan, a real estate agent from Manchester; Rocky De La Fuente, a former third-party presidential candidate who lives in California; and perennial GOP candidate H. Brook Paige of Orange County.
(Paige is also the lone Republican candidate on the primary ballot for the positions of state treasurer, auditor, attorney general and secretary of state – all seats held by Democratic incumbents who face no primary challengers.)

For Vermont’s statewide seat in the U.S. House, incumbent Democrat Peter Welch faces two primary opponents: Dan Freilich, a doctor at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction who drew 1 percent of the vote in a bid for U.S. Senate in 2010; and Benjamin Mitchell, who has run for various offices on the Liberty Union party line and who runs an academy in Keene, N.H., that helps high school students with disabilities transition to adulthood.

On the Republican ballot, two candidates are competing for Welch’s House seat: Paige, and Anya Tynio, a newspaper sales representative in the Newport area.

Polling places for the Aug. 14 primary open between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., depending on the town, and close at 7 p.m. statewide. Vermont has an open primary; voters are not asked to affiliate with any political party but must choose either the Democratic or the Republican ballot.

In Massachusetts, the most hotly contested race locally is the three-way Democratic contest for Berkshire County district attorney. The de facto incumbent is Paul Caccaviello, who has served on an interim basis since longtime District Attorney David F. Capeless retired in March – and who has worked in the local prosecutor’s office for his entire 30-year legal career.

Caccaviello is facing opposition from two local lawyers, Andrea Harrington and Judith Knight, who have characterized the district attorney’s office under Capeless and Caccaviello as lacking in diversity and resistant to needed criminal justice reforms. Knight previously worked for five years as a prosecutor in Middlesex County, and she mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge to Capeless in 2006 amid a public outcry over the incumbents’ pursuit of two-year minimum prison sentences against a series of young first-time offenders in Great Barrington.

There is no Republican candidate for district attorney, so the winner of the Sept. 4 primary will be unopposed for a four-year term in November.

In the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes all of Berkshire County, incumbent Democratic Rep. Richard Neal faces a primary challenge from Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Springfield lawyer and community activist who would become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress if she prevails. There is no Republican candidate for the seat.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 4. Massachusetts voters who are affiliated with a political party may only vote in that party’s primary. But those who are unaffiliated – a group that includes 53 percent of the state’s voters – may vote in either party’s primary.
-- Compiled by Fred Daley