Montpelier’s Town Meeting Day ballot may be short on contested races but the Democratic presidential primary dance card is full.
Democratic voters will have 13 names to choose from on Super Tuesday, ranging from favorite son Bernie Sanders to Mark Stewart (aka Mark Stewart Greenfield), an obscure candidate from Connecticut.
In addition to party front runners such as Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg, and Pete Buttigieg, the ballot includes primary dropouts Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson. The Republican ballot lists former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and perennial candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente in addition to President Donald Trump. Voters will receive both ballots but can only vote in one of the primaries.
Sanders is the overwhelming favorite to win his home state again, but given the tight results of the recent New Hampshire primary, it will be interesting to see if he can match the 86 percent he garnered in the 2016 Vermont contest, where it was a two-person race between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The sheer number of Democrats on the ballot is likely to erode some of Sanders’ margin this time.
Locally, Montpelier City Councilor Conor Casey, a former executive director of the state Democratic Party and an active Warren supporter, said Sanders would be wise to take nothing for granted.
“I’d say a good goal for Warren in Vermont is the 15 percent threshold,” Casey said. “I think Bernie has done a great job but I think Elizabeth is more viable in forming a coalition to bring in Biden voters and others.”
Another curiosity to watch will be how many Vermonters choose a Republican ballot and how well Weld performs against the incumbent president.
Otherwise, only two municipal races will feature competition: a two-year District 3 City Council seat and a five-year spot on the Cemetery Commission.
In the District 3 contest, Jay Ericson, Gene Leon, and Bruce Sargent are vying for the spot left by Councilor Glen Coburn Hutcheson, who decided not to seek re-election. Andrew Penniman and Linda Berger are competing for the cemetery post.
There are uncontested races for City Council in District 1, where incumbent Dona Bate seeks reelection, and in District 2, where Conor Casey is running for a second term. Daniel Richardson is the only candidate in a special election to complete the remaining year of the term vacated by Councilor Ashley Hill, who resigned in December. Richardson was appointed to temporarily fill Hill’s seat in January.
The city’s mayoral race is likewise devoid of challengers as incumbent Anne Watson seeks a second term.
“It certainly makes it easier for me, but I’m still going to be out there campaigning and knocking on doors and talking with folks,” Watson said. “It’s a nice commentary that people think I’m doing a really good job and people feel respected and heard.”
Four seats are up for grabs on the Montpelier-Roxbury Public Schools board, but only four candidates filed to appear on the ballot: Incumbent Board Chair Jim Murphy is seeking re-election to a three-year seat, and Aniket Kulkarni and Jill Remick are also running for three-year seats. Mara Iverson, who was appointed to replace Rebecca Bowen, is seeking election to the remaining year of that term.
Roxbury Town Clerk Tammy Legacy is seeking the post of School District Clerk, and no candidate applied to fill the post of School Moderator, which will be chosen by write-ins.
Bate is also running for a spot on the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority panel.