Montpelier voters, clearly motivated by the Democratic presidential primary, turned out in large numbers for the annual city meeting Tuesday to easily approve every budget and article on the ballot.
Despite the lack of hotly contested city races or big-ticket bond measures 3,623 voters cast ballots, roughly 56 percent of the total checklist, unofficially. The vast majority of those chose Democratic primary ballots and sent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to victory with 1,728 votes, representing 56 percent of Democratic ballots cast. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was second with 765 (25 percent) and former Vice President Joe Biden received 560.
While 3,407 voters cast Democratic ballots, 216 took Republican ballots with President Donald Trump receiving 149 votes to 61 for former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Rocky De La Fuente got 6.
City and school budgets passed easily, as did all of the other spending articles. The closest margin was the request for $270,000 in capital reserves to fund improvements in the city schools. It passed 2,195-1,034. Money was also approved for the Kellogg-Hubbard Library ($350,471); the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority ($23,500); and Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice ($23,500).
The combined municipal, school, and agency spending will result in a $266 property tax increase on a home valued at $200,000.
Ericson Takes Council Seat
There were two contested races on the ballot highlighted by a three-way competition for an open seat in District 3 for City Council. Jay Ericson, a key volunteer in the complete rebuild of the Union Elementary School playground, defeated Gene Leon and Bruce Sargent, 518-210-189, respectively.
In the other contested race, Linda Berger defeated Andrew Penniman, 1,553-956, for a four-year seat on the Cemetery Commission.
Incumbent Mayor Anne Watson scored 3,046 votes in an uncontested bid for a second term. Incumbent City Councilors in District 1 Dona Bate (852 votes) and District 2 Conor Casey (974) were re-elected without opposition. Daniel Richardson, who was appointed in December to replace Ashley Hill in District 3, was unopposed in winning the right to complete the last year remaining in Hill’s term.
“I’m grateful for the support of the voters in Montpelier,” Watson said. “Since I had no opponent, I knew I would win, but I was surprised and delighted to see that I broke 3,000 votes. I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead the council for another two years, and I’m looking forward to getting into the work!”
Three candidates were running for three seats on the Montpelier-Roxbury Public Schools director with Jill Remick winning 2,129 votes, followed by Board Chair Jum Murphy (1,984) and Aniket Kulkami (1,930). Mara Iverson, who was also appointed to fill a vacant seat, won 2,486 votes to complete the last year of that term. Shelley Quinn beat Brent Householder, 72-30, in a write-in contest for School District Treasurer and Tammy Legacy was unopposed for School Clerk.
Look for more on the annual city meeting in the March 12 edition of The Bridge.