Home News and Features Montpelier House Race Shapes Up

Montpelier House Race Shapes Up

Campaign signs appeal to voters outside City Hall August 9, 2022. Photo by Tom Brown
Montpelier voters in November will have four choices to fill two vacant House seats, including a pair of sitting city councilors. 

Teacher Kate McCann and City Councilor Conor Casey emerged from Tuesday’s five-person Democratic primary and will face Progressive Glennie Sewell and City Councilor Dona Bate in the general election. Bate chose to skip the partisan primary and filed paperwork to appear on the ballot as an independent.

“I didn’t want to align with a political party,” Bate said. The thing I like about the city council is that it’s nonpartisan (candidates run without party affiliation). I think we could benefit from a lessening of party politics.”

If elected, Bate said she would like to work on issues related to human rights, housing, transportation, public safety, and transportation. 

McCann and Casey, who ran as a team and will continue to do so in the general election, were the top vote-getters in the August 9 primary. McCann captured 1,275 votes, followed by Casey with 1,114, according to the Secretary of State’s unofficial tally. Ethan Parke finished third with 873 votes, Ken Jones tallied 822, and rising high school senior Merrick Modun earned 581.

Casey said Bate, who sits next to him on the council, informed him of her intention to run a couple of weeks before the primary.

“It won’t be adversarial,” Casey said of the general election race. “The primary was all above board and I expect this will be, too. We all have different approaches. The Montpelier seats have been Democratic since 1986, I think, and we hope to keep it that way.”

Bate indicated that she would resign from the council if elected. Casey said he is still thinking about whether to resign from the council if elected to the House. 

“I don’t think I would have enough time for both,” Bate said. 

Casey said his legislative priorities include making it easier for workers to organize, raising the minimum wage, providing family leave “across the board,” banning private prisons for Vermont inmates, and enforcing campaign finance laws. 

Casey, executive director of the gun safety group GunSense Vermont, said he will keep that job but not register as a lobbyist. He said he would not recuse himself from voting on gun-related bills.

McCann is a math teacher at U-32 High School and, with her husband, owns North Branch Vineyard. Casey credited McCann for carrying the ball in the duo’s final campaign drive. 

“Having a running mate was really helpful and I’m grateful to Kate for carrying us over the finish line,” he said. 

Bate has served on the council for eight years and is also chair of the Central Vermont Public Authority board, where she has been active in trying to improve the region’s emergency services communications systems. 

The four candidates are vying to replace representatives Mary Hooper and the late Warren Kitzmiller in the House. Both retired after the last legislative session and Kitzmiller died unexpectedly on July 10. 

The general election is set for November 8.

New County Prosecutor

Michelle Donnelly is expected to become Washington County’s first female state’s attorney after defeating fellow Democrat Bridget Grace in the primary. No other candidates have emerged in the race to replace Rory Thibault, who stepped down to unsuccessfully run for Vermont Attorney General. 

Donnelly, a law professor and former deputy state’s attorney in Orleans County, received 4,481 votes to 4,004 for Grace, who was a deputy state’s attorney for Thibault.

No Republicans or Progressives were entered in the primary.