Democrats hold rep seats

Williston sees record voter turnout

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

A record number Williston voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election — 83 percent early by mail and 17 percent in person at the polls.

A total of 4,961 Williston voters backed Democrat Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election, and 1,699 voted for the re-election of Donald Trump. As the count in that contest continued in several states into Wednesday morning, the contest for Williston’s representation in the Vermont Legislature and authorization for $2 million in borrowing for the Williston town government were settled.

Total turnout hit 82 percent (6,950 out of 8,449 registered voters), a record according to Town Clerk Sarah Mason.

Erin Brady was the top vote-getter for Williston state representative, securing 4,120 votes as a first-time candidate and a two-year term in the legislature. Fellow Democrat Jim McCullough won a 10th term with 3,674 votes. Republican challenger Tony O’Rourke got 2,647 votes, not enough to win one of the two seats.

“It’s a validation from the town’s voters that our program is a good one and they approve, and I’m really humbled by that,” McCullough said Tuesday night.

Brady, who plans to take a full or partial leave from her job as a teacher at Colchester High School but continue serving as a member of the Champlain Valley School Board, is planning to take part in orientation for first-time legislators before the session starts in January. She hopes for a spot on the House Education Committee.

“I am thankful to have earned the support of so many Willistonians,” Brady said, “and I look forward to working with Jim for the session to come and hopefully carrying through on my commitment to equity and opportunity for all and really keeping that at the forefront of policy decisions.”

O’Rourke, who persisted through more than 12 hours of waving and chatting with voters outside the polls at the National Guard Armory on a cold, snowy election day, was proud of his campaign.

“It was a long shot not being an incumbent and being a Republican in a very contested year,” he said Wednesday morning. “My congratulations to Jim and Erin on a good race and a good victory and I wish them the best in their role … I am still a neighbor and a friend, and that will always transcend politics.”

McCullough and Brady commended O’Rourke on his campaign.

“I’m very proud of Tony’s performance as a candidate,” McCullough said. “It takes a lot of chutzpah to stick your neck out on the line and attempt to serve. You’re opening yourself up for all kinds of criticism and you have to be willing to accept whatever happens. He was just up against a pretty formidable team. It was a tough uphill battle for him, but he did a good job.”

Voters also weighed in on the contests from Vermont governor, lieutenant governor, state senator and U.S. Congressman. In addition, they authorized $2 million in borrowing for the Town of Williston to upgrade water lines for about 100 homes in the Lamplite Acres neighborhood. Town administrators plan to apply for a state grant to cover half the project cost.