White, Balint win Democratic Senate nods
The Windham forum showed differences among the candidates on a hot topic there -- windpower. A developer is studying the potential for a large-scale wind-turbine site in the towns of Windham and Grafton, though Windham's town plan prohibits commercial turbines. Allbee and Bowman both said they would support allowing individual towns to block a commercial energy project, while White and Balint said they could not back such veto power given the importance of regional and statewide energy plans.
Credit: By MIKE FAHER / Reformer Staff | Brattleboro Reformer | 08/26/2014 | www.reformer.com ~~
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BRATTLEBORO – State Sen. Jeanette White and Brattleboro resident Becca Balint won the two Democratic nominations for Windham County Senate on Tuesday, beating out two other Democrats.
With 17 of the district’s 20 towns reporting, White had 2,199 votes followed by Balint’s 1,639. In third place was Roger Allbee with 1,149, and Joan Bowman had 427.
White, a Putney resident who is seeking a seventh term in the Senate, thanked voters on a day when turnout was light.
“I was really, really nervous this time, because I realized how much I wanted to go back,” she said Tuesday night. “I am very excited about it and just grateful to the voters for having faith in me.”
Balint, Allbee and Bowman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The two Senate seats cover all of Windham County except for Wilmington, which is in the Bennington County Senate District, and Londonderry, which lies in the Windsor County Senate District.
No Republicans filed to run in the primary for Windham County Senate. Though there were some write-in votes cast on GOP ballots for Senate Tuesday, it was not immediately clear who had received those votes.
Also on primary ballots were two uncontested Liberty Union candidates – Aaron Diamondstone and Jerry Levy.
The Democratic Senate field included only one incumbent because current Sen. Peter Galbraith, a Townshend Democrat, announced in June that he would not pursue a new term.
That left White, who touted her experience as well as her leadership of the Senate Government Operations Committee, to run against Allbee, Balint and Bowman – none of whom had held a state elected office before.
Allbee had experience in state government, as he served as Vermont’s state Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets from 2007 to 2011. The Townshend resident is the current chief executive officer of Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend, having received that title after the hospital’s board elevated him from interim CEO earlier this year.
Balint previously worked as a teacher at schools in Guilford, Marlboro and Londonderry. She is a consultant as well as a member of the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies Workforce Group. Balint also serves a a Brattleboro Town Meeting representative and a Brattleboro Development Review Board member.
Bowman, of Putney, is a health-care navigator at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. In the 2012 elections, she had served as a Democratic field organizer for Windham County.
The county Democrats organized three public forums for the party’s Senate candidates in Townshend, Bellows Falls and Brattleboro. A fourth forum, organized by Windham Community Organization, was held in the town of Windham.
The Windham forum showed differences among the candidates on a hot topic there – windpower. A developer is studying the potential for a large-scale wind-turbine site in the towns of Windham and Grafton, though Windham’s town plan prohibits commercial turbines.
Allbee and Bowman both said they would support allowing individual towns to block a commercial energy project, while White and Balint said they could not back such veto power given the importance of regional and statewide energy plans.
Campaign contributions were another source of division. White, who has been deeply involved in recent changes to the state’s campaign-finance law, said she does not favor banning corporate donations to candidates due to a variety of complications. Allbee, however, said he would take no money from corporations and political-action committees.
At the final forum in Brattleboro, a question about marijuana legalization also elicited differing responses. White said she fully supports legalizing and regulating the drug, while the other three Democrats said they were not sure.
Balint was the race’s top fund-raiser, reporting $13,121 in contributions and $5,465 in expenditures by the Aug. 15 filing deadline.
In the campaign’s final week, Balint and White were endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Phil Baruth, who dubbed them a “Democratic dream team for Windham County.” Galbraith endorsed Allbee, saying he disagreed with Balint and White on “some key issues” including campaign contributions and energy-generation policy.
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