Aug. 26, 2010By Greg Duggan Observer staff
The 1,770 Williston voters who cast ballots on Tuesday nearly doubled the town’s typical turnout for a primary election.
“My guess is it’s because there’s such a race with the governor’s race,” Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Smardon said while working at the polls in the Williston Armory. “Williston people are pretty active when it comes to voting, anyway.”
The five-person contest to win the Democratic nomination for gubernatorial candidate had garnered the most headlines across the state, yet as the Observer went to press on Wednesday a winner had yet to be declared.
Unofficial results as of noon, with 253 of 260 precincts reporting, had Peter Shumlin in the lead with 18,009 votes, 225 ahead of Doug Racine. Deb Markowitz was in third with 17,244 votes, followed by Matt Dunne with nearly 15,000 and Susan Bartlett with just over 3,700.
The winner will face Republican Brian Dubie in November.
The Democratic primary proved the most popular in Williston, with 1,309 voters casting Democratic ballots. On the Republican side, 461 ballots were cast. Not a single Williston voter filled out a Progressive ballot.
Racine had the most support in Williston, taking 403 votes. Markowitz had 353 votes, with Shumlin in third with 273 votes.
The only contested local election was the Democratic race to represent Chittenden County in the state senate. Seven candidates sought six nominations. Williston incumbent Ginny Lyons led the vote in town, receiving 1,064 votes; with 13,037 votes across the county, she was the leading vote-getter of the seven candidates. Lyons will be joined on the November ballot by Tim Ashe, Sally Fox, Hinda Miller, Philip Baruth and Andy Montroll. Frank Geier was the odd man out.
In the statewide races, Williston resident Chris Roy fared well in his hometown, garnering 334 votes compared to Jason Gibbs’ 115 in the race for the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Yet Gibbs proved more popular throughout the rest of Vermont, and won the nomination.
Williston resident Shelley Palmer also had the support of his town, earning the second-most votes for Chittenden County state senate nominees on the Republican ballot. Palmer and five other Republicans will all appear on the November ballot.
Turnout strong for primary
By 5 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 1,300 voters had visited the polls. The final number came to 1,770 — well above the typical primary turnout of 900 or so voters, according to Smardon. The figure signified 23 percent of Williston’s 7,556 registered voters.
“It’s been very steady, a very good turnout for a primary,” Smardon said.
Other than a quiet period in the early afternoon, Smardon said a steady stream of voters passed through the Armory.
Resident Mary Kay O’Brien, for one, said she voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin.
“I like his … years of leadership on the state level,” O’Brien said, also noting that she always votes and feels it’s an important right.
Sara Moran, a public health nurse for the state, also said she felt compelled by the right to vote, and said it was nice to see people visiting the polls.
“I believe it’s important that people vote,” she said. “I think it’s a responsibility.”
Darlene Isham exercised her voting rights to support the Republicans.
“I think it’s time for a change,” she said, elaborating that she wants to see more of the Grand Old Party on Vermont’s political scene.
Outside the Armory, candidates and campaign helpers held signs and chatted with voters.
“There’s no sweat in this one,” Terry Macaig, a Democratic incumbent in the Vermont House of Representatives, told the Observer while holding a sign Tuesday evening.
Macaig said he visited the polls in the morning, at noon and again in the afternoon. He and fellow incumbent Democrat Jim McCullough will face Republican challengers Mike Benevento and Jay Michaud in November.
The two Republicans also held signs outside the Armory Tuesday evening, and voiced their pleasant surprise with the number of voters.
“I imagine a lot are here for the Democrats,” Benevento said, before Michaud interrupted to joke that the two Republicans were the main attraction.
Nearby, a staff member of Racine’s campaign held a sign supporting the gubernatorial candidate. Will Senning had already visited Edmunds Middle School in Burlington around noon and Waterbury in the morning.
“We’re feeling confident … and hope that the Chittenden County folks come out,” Senning said.
Charles Merriman, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, also stood outside the Armory on Tuesday evening, after visiting Montpelier, Middlesex and Burlington earlier in the day. He had sign-holding support from Williston resident Ellie Beckett, who also wore stickers for her neighbor, Ginny Lyons.
“Charlie is just the best guy for the job,” Beckett said.
Unfortunately for Merriman, not all Vermont voters thought so, and he lost the Democratic nomination to Jim Condos.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Here’s how Williston voted in two of the contested primary elections:
Democratic nominees for Chittenden County state senate
Ginny Lyons 1,064
Tim Ashe 789
Hinda Miller 773
Sally Fox 744
Philip Baruth 656
Andy Montroll 630
Frank Geier 418
Democratic nominee for governor
Doug Racine 403
Deb Markowitz 353
Peter Shumlin 273
Matt Dunne 201
Susan Bartlett 58