Home News and Features Bridge/ORCA Forums Help Voters Get to Know the Candidates

Bridge/ORCA Forums Help Voters Get to Know the Candidates

In an unprecedented election year — with a vast turnover in the Vermont legislature — not to mention two constitutional amendments on the ballot and the retirement of Vermont’s eight-term Senator Patrick Leahy —  it’s more important than ever to get to know who’s running for office. With that in mind The Bridge teamed up with ORCA Media to present 11 candidate forums this month. Forums were held Oct. 5 — Oct. 17,  with a focus on the contested races in Washington County, plus the Secretary of State and  Lt. Governor races.

Admittedly new to the world of hosting candidate forums, I was heartened to see mention of them throughout the community, on local discussion forums, and in social media. They clearly hit a nerve, and — as we heard from several candidates — ended up being one of the few — if not the only — opportunities for local candidates to discuss their platforms before the public.

Most Vermont media outlets have focused their candidate forums and debates on the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and Governor seats. The Bridge and ORCA Media narrowed our collective lens on the local candidates who will represent us in the Statehouse. 

Across the board, we asked candidates about the big issues: housing, the economy, elections integrity; climate change; equity issues for marginalized communities; and more. We incorporated over a dozen questions that community members sent in to us into our final question list. We also asked each candidate what their thoughts were about the two constitutional amendments on the ballot:

  • Proposal 2, which repeals language from the state constitution stating that persons could be held as servants, slaves, or apprentices with the person’s consent or “for the payments of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like” and adds “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.” 
  • Proposal 5 (now Article 22) which adds language protecting the right to personal reproductive autonomy and prohibiting government infringement unless justified by a compelling state interest. 
If you’d like to see how the candidates answered these and other questions, view the forums at orcamedia.net/series/2022-general-election-forums-live-presented-orca-media-and-bridge, or here: youtube.com/orcamedia. Below you’ll find specific links to each forum. Please note that while all candidates were invited, some chose not to participate. Those listed below are the ones who showed up in the studio for the forums.

State Senator, Washington-Orange (Washington County, Braintree, Orange, and Stowe) 

Participating Candidates: Paul Matthew Bean, R; Ann Cummings, D; Dexter LeFavour, Rep/Lib; Andrew Perchlik, Dem/Prog; Anne Watson, D.  Moderator: Tom McKone. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-senator-washington-1-washington-county-braintree-orange-and-stowe-live-730pm

State Representative, Washington-3 (Barre City) 

Participating Candidates: Peter Anthony, D; Thomas Kelly, R; Jonathan Williams, D. Moderator: John Hollar. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-washington-3-barre-city-live-600pm

State Representative, Washington-4 (Montpelier) 

Participating Candidates: Dona Bate, I; Conor Casey, D; Kate McCann, D, Glennie Fitzgerald Sewell, P; Gene Leon, R. Moderator: Cassandra Hemenway. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-washington-4%C2%A0montpelier-live-730pm

State Representative, Washington-6 (Calais, Marshfield, Plainfield) 

Participating Candidates: Tina Golon, R; Marc B. Mihaly, D. Moderator: Keith Goslant. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-washington-6-calais-marshfield-plainfield-live-600pm

State Representative, Lamoille-Washington (Morristown, Woodbury, Elmore, Worcester) 

Participating Candidates: Saudia Lamont, D; Avram Patt, D. Moderators: Co-hosts of All Things LGBTQ on ORCA Media: Anne Charles, Linda Quinlan, Keith Goslant. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-lamoille-washington%C2%A0morristown-woodbury-elmore-worcester-live-600pm

State Representative, Washington-Chittenden (Waterbury, Bolton, Huntington, Buels Gore) 

Participating Candidates: William McGorry, I; Thomas Stevens, D; Kathi Tarrant, R; Theresa A. Wood, D; Moderator: Linda Radtke. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-washington-chittenden%C2%A0waterbury-bolton-huntington-buels-gore-live-600pm

State Representative, Washington-Orange District (Barre Town, Websterville, Graniteville, part of Williamstown) 

Candidates: Melissa Battah, D; Gina M. Galfetti, R; Francis “Topper” McFaun, R/D. Moderator: Linda Radtke. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-washington-orange-live-600pm

State Representative, Orange-Washington-Addison

Participating Candidates: Jay Hooper, D (no show); Wayne Townsend, R. Moderator: Lauren Milideo, Ph.D. View at orcamedia.net/show/state-representative-orange-washington-addison-live-730pm

Secretary of State

Participating Candidates: Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D; H. Brooke Paige, R. Moderator: Cassandra Hemenway. View at orcamedia.net/show/secretary-state-live-730pm

Vermont Lt. Governor

Participating Candidates: Joe Benning, R; David Zuckerman, P/D. Moderator: Nat Frothingham. View at orcamedia.net/show/lt-governor-live-600pm

Nine people from the community moderated the forums, some (such as Tom McKone, contributor to The Bridge and former executive director of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library) have done this before and shared expertise with the many of us for whom forum-moderating was a first. All the moderators have deep ties to the community, and provided a true service by filling the role of moderator. The Bridge thanks McKone, plus the three hosts of All Things LBGTQ+ on ORCA Media — Anne Charles, Keith Goslant, and Linda Quinlen — Bridge contributor Lauren Milideo, PhD; Bridge Board member, Vermont Public radio host, and former English teacher, Linda Radtke; and The Bridge’s publisher emeritus, Nat Frothingham for stepping up to moderate these forums. Special thanks also go out to ORCA Media and its staff for their role in producing the forum videos and co-planning these events.

Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022. All Vermont registered voters should have received a ballot in the mail by now. Voting information can be found at the Vermont Secretary of State’s website as well at sos.vermont.gov/elections/voters.