November 26, 2015

Macaig, McCullough running unopposed for Vermont House of Representatives


Terry Macaig (above) and Jim McCullough (below), are running unopposed to represent Williston in the Vermont House.

Jim McCullough

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston residents will see two familiar names on the ballot for representatives to the Vermont House on Election Day.

Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough, both Democrats, are running unopposed—a rarity in Williston.

There is typically good competition for House seats, said Town Clerk Deb Beckett. The last time there was an uncontested House race was 1978, when Republican Howard Lunderville held a seat. That was back when Williston had only 1,891 registered voters (773 of whom cast a vote for Lunderville)—less than a quarter of what it has now.

Macaig is running for his fourth term.

Though he has no competition this go round, he said his experience and years of town service make him fit for the task.

“While I’m sure I haven’t voted the way everyone wanted me to every time, I’ve done my best to try to represent the people in the town, and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

Macaig, who has lived in Williston for 48 years, has also served 12 years on the Selectboard, the last nine as chairman. He is a justice of the peace, member of the Board of Civil Authority and president of the Williston Historical Society.

In his six years in the legislature, Macaig has served on the House Corrections and Institutions Committee.

“We’ve hopefully turned the curve around in corrections spending, saving some money by keeping people out of jail and having them serve time in their house or in a transition type of housing,” he said of his accomplishments in the committee.

He decided to run again because “there’s a lot of unfinished business that needs to be taken care of,” he said.

“I’ve been a proponent of health care reform, whether it’s going to be single payer or universal coverage or something else, something needs to happen,” he said.

He also listed property tax reform as a major task facing the legislature, as well as setting the state budget.

“In the years I’ve been there the budget has always been a problem,” he said. “Over the course of six years, we’ve had to reduce the budget by a couple million dollars. That’s not been easy and it’s not going to get any easier.”

McCullough is running for his seventh term.

A lifelong Williston resident, he co-founded the Catamount Outdoor Family Center and serves as a Justice of the Peace. He is a member of the Williston Historical Society and vice chairman of the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

McCullough said he wanted to thank voters for the trust they put in him 12 years ago when he first ran for the House.

“I hope that I have demonstrated a responsibility to that trust,” he said.

“I’m doing a good job and I love it,” he said when asked why he wants to run again. “That good job is not just for the town of Williston, but for the whole state, which every thinking legislator really does.”

Most recently, McCullough has worked to get groundwater preserved as a public trust.

“Now all Vermonters own the groundwater and there are restrictions on how much of it can be used by any one entity or person,” he said.

He also worked on other water quality issues, including a ban on hydraulic fracturing and the Shoreland Protection Act.

More broadly, he has been proud of his work for marriage equality and health care access.

Some of those same issues will be important in the next term, along with ones the legislature has been working on his entire tenure.

“We are today on the precipice of deciding whether or not we can afford to have universal health care, or you might say whether we can afford not to have something different than what we’ve got today.”

The education funding system is also a top issue.

“Twelve years ago, I agreed with people on their front porches that we needed to do something about our education financing program,” he said. “In 12 years, the legislature has not been able to come to grips with it and figure out how to make that work. There is, I believe, now the political will to do that, and I want to be a part of that.”

Voters will have the final say, though not many choices, at the polls on Nov. 4.

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