Huge turnout expected on Election Day10/30/08

Ballot filled with national, state races

Oct. 30, 2008

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

A high-profile national race and a long list of candidates will likely draw a record turnout on Election Day.

The presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, of course, is the main attraction in the Nov. 4 vote. But the ballot also includes contests for statewide offices ranging from governor to auditor, as well as two key local races.

Williston Town Clerk Deb Beckett expects an unprecedented turnout due to the presidential race. The town had 7,219 registered voters as of Oct. 17, an all-time high and up by more than 300 since Town Meeting Day in March.

Beckett has added poll workers and expects to have about 15 people working each shift on Election Day.

A large number of early voters, however, will help avoid an overwhelming crowd at the polls, Beckett said. The number of ballots cast in advance could exceed 2,000.

In local races, four Vermont House candidates are seeking to represent Williston, and 14 candidates are vying for Chittenden County’s six seats in the state Senate.

In the House race, incumbent Democrat Jim McCullough is joined on the ballot by fellow Democrat Terry Macaig and Republicans Shelley Palmer and Brennan Duffy. The top two vote-getters win the right to represent Williston in the 150-member House.

McCullough, co-owner of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, is seeking his fourth two-year term. He won the second-highest number of votes in the 2006 election, finishing just behind Mary Peterson, who decided not to run for re-election this year.

Macaig, a lobbyist and administrator with the Vermont State Employees Association, and Palmer, an equipment operator for a local paving company, are making their second run for the House. Macaig ran unsuccessfully in 2000; Palmer came up short in 2004.

Duffy is director of recruitment for the Vermont Department of Economic Development. He is seeking his first elected office.

Both Duffy and Macaig have promised to cut back on their current job duties if elected to avoid conflicts of interest. Macaig has said he will no longer serve as a lobbyist for the employees’ union. Duffy said he will not work for the Department of Economic Development when the Legislature is in session.

In the Senate races, voters will see a lengthy list of candidates and many unfamiliar names. Six Democrats, six Republicans, an independent and a minor-party candidate are on the ballot.

Incumbents have usually held their seats in the past few elections, including Ginny Lyons of Williston, who was first elected in 2002.

Information on the Senate candidates’ is available at the Observer’s Web site, Profiles of each of the House candidates are also available by going to the archive section of the site.

Also on the Williston ballot is an item that asks voters to approve two changes to the town charter.

One change shifts the zoning administrator from a three-year, appointed position to a hired, at-will employee. The change was prompted by a controversy over former zoning administrator D.K. Johnston, who resigned only after his term ended when he was charged with stalking and disturbing the peace in an incident involving a real estate agent who sold him a condominium.

The other change involves contracts with solid waste companies. Such agreements are now governed by state law, which says towns “may” enter into agreements. Town officials, however, assert that such language puts Williston at a disadvantage when negotiating agreements with the town’s three solid waste companies. So the town charter would say the companies “shall” enter into contracts.

Election Q&A

When and where does voting take place?

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voting on Nov. 4 takes place at the Williston Armory next to Town Hall.

Where do I park?

You can park behind Town Hall, where there are approximately 70 spaces. Almost all spots will be reserved for voters. Town Clerk Deb Beckett said she hopes to have someone direct cars into and out of the lot, which was at times chaotic during voting last March.

When is the deadline to register?

The last day to register to vote was Wednesday, Oct. 29. If you registered but your name does not appear on the checklist, you will be allowed to vote if you fill out an affidavit attesting that you did in fact register, said Beckett.

I’m busy on Nov. 4. How can I vote?

Ballots can be cast any time between now and Election Day. Ballots can be picked up at Williston Town Hall during normal business hours, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. People with disabilities can have ballots delivered by calling 878-5121 before noon on Nov. 3.

I don’t want to vote in some races because I don’t know or like any of the candidates. Will my ballot still count?

“Absolutely,” said Beckett. Ballots with no selections in some races are common and will in no way invalidate the votes you do cast.

On the ballot

President and Vice President

John McCain and Sarah Palin (R)

Barack Obama and Joe Biden (D)

U.S. Representative

Thomas James Hermann (P)

Peter Welch (D)


Jim Douglas (R)

Anthony Pollina (I)

Gaye Symington (D)

Lieutenant Governor

Thomas Costello (D)

Brian Dubie (R)

Richard Kemp (P)

State Treasurer

Don Schramm (P)

Jeb Spaulding (D, R)

Secretary of State

Eugene Bifano (R)

Deb Markowitz (D)

Marjorie Power (P)

Auditor of Accounts

Martha Abbott (P)

Thomas Salmon (D, R)

Attorney General

Charlotte Dennett (P)

Karen Kerin (R)

William Sorrell (D)

State Senator

Darren Adams (R)

Tim Ashe (D)

Denise Barnard (D)

Dennis Benard (R)

Agnes Clift (R)

Ed Flanagan (D)

Ginny Lyons (D)

Hinda Miller (D)

Robyn Myers-Moore (R)

Doug Racine (D)

Diane Snelling (R)

Paula Spadaccini (R)

State Representative

Brennan Duffy (R)

Terry Macaig (D)

Jim McCullough (D)

Shelly Palmer (R)


Note: Independent and minor-party candidates and those running uncontested are not included in this list. Due to the large number of names, candidates for justice of the peace were also omitted.