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Experience Leads in Vermont House Races

— Legislative experience appeared to prevail last night as two Democratic incumbents, state Reps. Donna Sweaney and John Bartholomew, convincingly defeated Republican newcomer Ryan Palmer in the contested Windsor 1 Vermont House race.

Windsor 1, which was redistricted to encompass Windsor, West Windsor and Hartland, had two House seats up for grabs. Though results from West Windsor were not available last night, Sweaney and Bartholomew received nearly the identical numbers of votes from the other two towns — Sweaney brought in 1,999, while Bartholomew received 1,972. Palmer was lagging behind, receiving 1,180 votes. Sweaney, a 69-year-old Windsor Democrat and retired guidance counselor, will likely begin her ninth term next year; Bartholomew, 57, could begin his second.

Bartholomew, a retired veterinarian who worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. and currently resides on a farm in Hartland, served last term on the House Agricultural Committee. He handily beat Sweaney in the town in which he lives, 1,242 to 914.

Also, in his first time campaign in Windsor he bested Palmer, a Windsor native and full-time Windsor police officer, 730 to 604. In Hartland, Palmer received 576 votes.

After seeing the Windsor results, which were released first, Palmer said they were “understandable.” “You know, I didn’t put the effort into campaigning like I should have,” he said. “I’m not overly surprised about it.” Sweaney, a retired guidance counselor and former Windsor selectwoman who most recently served on two House committees, Government Accountability and Government Operations (on which she served as chairwoman), towered over her opponents in the town she spent eight terms representing. In Windsor, Sweaney brought in 1,085 votes.

Palmer previously said that despite his political inexperience, he figured his chances at prevailing over Bartholomew were 50-50.

The two Democrats worked together on the campaign trail, knocking on doors in tandem in their newly combined district.

Orange 2

ORANGE 2 State Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, a Bradford Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Mary Daly for the third consecutive time, taking 1,256 votes to Daly’s 726. Come January, Hanzas will begin her fifth term in the House.

In her last term in the House, Hanzas, 42, served as the vice chairwoman of the House Health Care Committee. She currently owns The Local Buzz, a coffee shop in Bradford. Daly, 68, a Fairlee resident and member of its Selectboard, has worked as a registered nurse in Colorado and New Mexico.

In Hanzas’ hometown of Bradford, she won handily, receiving 761 votes to Daly’s 413. She also won in Fairlee, where Daly lives, 324 to 193.

The Orange 2 district represents Bradford, Fairlee and West Fairlee.

Orange 1

ORANGE 1 With two out of six precincts reporting, the incumbents were leading in the two-seat Orange 1 race last night, according to VPR. State Rep.

Philip C. Winters, R-Williamstown, was leading with 564 votes, and state Rep. Susan Hatch Davis, D-Washington, had 471.

Republican challenger Rodney Graham had 397 votes and Democratic hopeful John H. Taylor had 212. Both Graham, a dairy farmer who has served as chairman of the Williamstown Selectboard, and Taylor, a retired state employee who has served as a Williamstown lister and on its planning commission, live in that town.

Orange 1 represents Chelsea, Corinth, Orange, Vershire, Washington and Williamstown.

Windsor 2

Democrat Mark Huntley won the battle between two members of the Cavendish Selectboard by a tight margin last night.

With 1,032 votes, the 46-year-old Huntley beat Republican Scott Ranney’s 994 votes to claim the seat of retiring Rep. Ernie Shand, D-Weathersfield.

Both candidates are Vermont natives. Huntley, who was born in Rutland and, after living in New York City and Los Angeles, moved back to the Green Mountain State 12 years ago. Ranney, 56, who owns New Life Wood Floors Inc. in Cavendish, can trace his Vermont roots back to the Revolutionary War.

Windsor 2 represents Cavendish and Weathersfield.

Rutland-Windsor 1

Democratic challenger Anne Gallivan appears to have defeated the Republican incumbent, state Rep. Jim Eckhardt, in the one-seat Rutland-Windsor 1 district yesterday, according to the Vermont Secretary of State’s website.

Gallivan, 63, who retired from the Barstow Memorial School in Chittenden and served on the Vermont School Librarians Association Board from 2006 to 2009, received 1,203 votes. Eckhardt, 51, who has served one term in the House and currently owns Censor Security, a private security and patrol business, received 1,166 votes. Both candidates are Chittenden residents.

In Bridgewater, however, Eckhardt came away with more votes, taking 253 to Gallivan’s 216.

Besides Bridgewater, Rutland-Windsor 1 represents Killington, Chittenden and Mendon.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.