Editor’s note: This is the second in a rundown of the list of candidates for this year’s Washington County races for the Vermont House of Representatives. The primary is Aug. 14
No Democrat has won a legislative race in conservative Barre Town since Beth Tosh managed to pull it off in 1984. It hasn’t been for lack of trying, though this year it will be.
Democrats are sitting this one out, which is great news for the two incumbent Republicans who don’t have to worry about the August primary and can campaign for fun this fall.
Rep. Rob LaClair, R-Barre Town will be back on the ballot in the two-member Washington 3 legislative district in November.
LaClair, 58, of Airport Road was first elected in 2014 and is running for what will be his third consecutive two-year term.
A Montpelier native who moved to Barre Town in 2007 and parlayed his service on the Select Board into a seat in the Legislature, LaClair’s political past also includes a stint on the U-32 School Board.
LaClair, who now serves as vice chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, is owner of the Worcester Outback car dealership in Waterbury Center and part owner of Land Care Agri-Services in Montpelier.
Francis “Topper" McFaun
Rep. Francis “Topper” McFaun, R-Barre Town, can also put his campaign on cruise control.
First elected to the Legislature in 2004, McFaun is running for what would be his eighth consecutive two-year term and his only company appears to be LaClair.
McFaun, 79, has lived in Barre Town since 1967 and was a veteran member and former chairman of the Select Board before he was elected to the Legislature. The Sunset Road resident, who retired several years ago after working for nearly 40 years in state government, is ranking member of the House Committee on Human Services.
The two incumbents and a Progressive party challenger are seeking the two positions representing Montpelier.
Incumbent Mary Hooper, D-Montpelier, has been a member of the House since 2009, and is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee. Hooper has lived in Montpelier since 1979 with her husband, Jim Slinkman, who is a physicist working for IBM. She has been the executive director of the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry and the first executive director of the former Montpelier Downtown Association. She served four terms as mayor of Montpelier and on a number of city boards and commissions and other organizations, including Capstone, the regional community action agency, Hunger Council of Vermont and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Warren Kitzmiller
Fellow incumbent Warren Kitzmiller, D-Montpelier, has been a member of the House since 2001. He is the ranking member of the House Committee on Government Operations and other committees he serves on include the Green Mountain Care Board, the Legislative Advisory Committee on the State House and the Recreational Facilities Grants Program. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Kitzmiller moved to Vermont in 1963 and became a resident of Montpelier in 1974, when he founded the former Onion River Sports store, from which he is now retired. He was appointed to the House in 2001 following the death of his wife, the late Rep. Karen Kitzmiller. In 2006, he married his childhood friend, Jeanne Cariati. He is a member of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, a trustee of Friends of the Vermont State House and a board director of Lost Nation Theater. He's a former member of Montpelier City Council, Montpelier Planning Commission, Montpelier Recreation Board and the Board of Civil Authority. Glennie Sewell
Progressive challenger Glennie Sewell, of Montpelier, is making his fourth run for a House seat. He first began his run for office with a focus on the introduction of a Fair Housing Act and a push for continued improvement to Vermont's health care system, including cost and access. He's an English teacher at Norwich University, and also teaches part-time at Community College of Vermont and online with Troy University in Alabama. Sewell has degrees in creative writing, English and education. He is also training in the Vermont Medical Reserve Corps.
Washington 5Kimberly Jessup
Incumbent Rep. Kimberly Jessup, D-Middlesex, has been a member of the House since 2016 and is running for her second term. She is a member of House Judiciary Committee, the Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force and the Canvasing Committee. She is running unopposed for the seat which represents East Montpelier and Middlesex. Born in Michigan, she moved to Vermont in 1999 and became a resident of Middlesex in 2007. She has worked as adviser to the president for the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges since 2009. Before that, she worked with the Institute for Sustainable Communities (2001-2005) and Vermont Public Radio (1999-2001). She is a former chair of the Roxbury School Board, coach for Rumney School Girls on the Run teams, a Middlesex robotics project leader and Four Winds environmental education teacher. She is married to Ben Jessup.
Washington 6Janet Ancel
Incumbent Janet Ancel, D-Calais, has been a member of the House since 2005. She is the chairwoman of the House Ways and Means and Joint Fiscal committees, and co-chairwoman of the Health Reform Oversight Committee. She is running unopposed for the seat representing Calais, Marshfield and Plainfield. Born in Boston, Ancel grew up in Calais. An attorney, she was admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1980. She served for many years as legal staff for the Legislature and later as legal counsel to Gov. Howard Dean (1993–2000) and was Vermont tax commissioner from 2000 to 2002. She is married to Stephen Reynes, a former member of the House. She is a former board member of the Federation of Tax Administrators and a current member of the State and Local Tax Task Force and the Budget and Revenue Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She is also a member of Historic Kents Corner, Inc. and is a volunteer at the Adamant Coop.
Incumbents Maxine Grad and Edward Read are being challenged by a Democrat for their two seats representing Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren.
Incumbent Maxine Grad, D-Waitsfield, has been a member of the House since 2001. She is the chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee and the Judicial Nominating Board. Born in Great Neck, New York, Grad became a resident of Moretown in 1986. An attorney and educator, she previously worked at the Snelling Center for Government's Vermont Leadership Institute. She is a member of the Governor's Institutes of Vermont, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and Northfield Rotary Club, Moretown Democratic Committee and National Women's Health Network. She previously served on the Moretown and Central Vermont regional planning commissions, and is a past member of the Governor's Commission on Women, the Moretown Action Planning Committee, Bi-State Primary Care Vermont, the Women's Health Steering Committee, and a past director of the Northfield Business Professional Association. Edward Read
Rep. Edward Read, I-Waitsfield, was appointed by Gov. Phil Scott to fill the seat vacated by former Independent Rep. Adam Greshin, who was appointed last year by the governor to serve as commissioner of finance and management. Born in St. Albans, he moved to Fayston in 1995. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in business administration and is working toward his MBA from the University of Massachusetts. After honing his diplomacy and negotiation skills as a bouncer at the Mangy Moose Saloon in Jackson Hole, he embarked on an 11-year management career in the ski business at Sugarbush. Since 2001, he has been the owner of Mad River Property Management. Past and present community involvement includes 16 years on the Fayston Select Board, the Community Capital of Vermont board of directors, Vermont State Tramway Board, the Mad River Valley Rotary Club, the Mad River Path Association, and years coaching youth sports. Kari Dolan
Challenger Kari Dolan, D-Waitsfield, is a member of the Waitsfield Select Board and former board member of the Mad River Valley Planning District, Friends of the Mad River Board and the Waitsfield Planning Commission. She has worked for over two decades in water resources management and is the manager of the Vermont Clean Water Initiative Program and administrator for the Clean Water Fund.
Neither seat representing the towns of Waterbury, Bolton and Huntington, is being contested. Both representatives are seeking re-election.
Thomas Stevens Incumbent Thomas Stevens, D-Washington-Chittenden, has been a member of the House since 2009. He is also the vice chairman of the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs and serves on the Department of Liquor and Lottery Task Force. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he moved to Waterbury in 1996. He served as chairman of the Waterbury Select Board and president of the Waterbury Village Trustees and is education director at the Waterbury Congregational Church. He is also president of the board of Downstreet Housing and Community Development in Barre and served on the boards of the Children's Room and Revitalizing Waterbury, for which he chaired the Downtown Designation Committee, resulting in Waterbury Village receiving Downtown Designation in 2006. He has also served as executive director of the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education and director of the Vermont Dictionary Project. While his children were young, he was the stay-at-home parent. He revisited his professional career as director and production coordinator for QuarryWorks Theater at the Adamant Music School and, in 2008, recorded the audiobook version of Archer Mayor's "Open Season." In October 2012, Stevens was the project director for "Going to Waterbury: An Elegy," an art installation at, and closure ceremony for, the Waterbury State Hospital. Theresa Wood Incumbent Theresa Wood, D-Waterbury-Chittenden, has been a member of the House since 2015 when she was appointed by former Gov. Peter Shumlin to replace Rebecca Ellis, who resigned to take a job with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Wood is the clerk of the House Committee on Human Services, a designee on the Vermont Child Poverty Council and on the canvassing committee. Wood grew up in Waterbury and attended Champlain College. Her career has been primarily in state government. She was formerly director of Developmental Disability Services and deputy commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. Wood was executive director of the Vermont office of APS Healthcare, a national corporation that contracted with the state to help Medicaid recipients manage chronic conditions. After Tropical Storm Irene devastated Waterbury, she was chairwoman of ReBuild Waterbury. Her community service includes work on the Waterbury School Board, Revitalizing Waterbury, Rotary Club, historical society and her church.