Newcomers on ballot in Orange-2 primary

  • Lance Mills (Courtesy photograph)

  • Monique Priestley (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 8/1/2022 8:55:37 PM
Modified: 8/1/2022 8:55:30 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — Two Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination to replace Sarah Copeland Hanzas as the representative for the Orange-2 District in the Vermont House in the primary election on Aug. 9.

Lance Mills, 65, of Fairlee, and Monique Priestley, 36, of Bradford, are competing for the Democrats’ choice to represent the three-town district that includes Fairlee, West Fairlee and Bradford. 

The winner of the Democratic primary will likely face Zachary Lang, of Bradford, the only Republican who has filed for the seat, in November.

Copeland Hanzas, a Bradford Democrat who was first elected to the House in 2004, is running for secretary of state. 

Mills said running for public office has been something he’s always wanted to do. He is a member of the Fairlee Selectboard. As a construction technology teacher at the River Bend Career and Technical Center in Bradford, Mills said he places a high value on education. One of his main goals should he be elected is to “educate our children in a way that they can help our communities grow so that we can keep them here,” he said. 

Mills has seen small towns like Fairlee growing lately, with an influx of people moving from other areas, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Should he be elected, Mills plans to advocate for state funds, which he said are necessary to encourage young entrepreneurs to establish themselves in the area and support families moving in. 

“If we’re going to grow, we’re going to need infrastructure,” Mills said, noting that he hopes to see community-based septic systems, broadband improvements and more efficient road maintenance in the future.

Voters have brought issues like affordable housing, child care and high property taxes to Mills’ attention. Mills wants to address these issues if he’s elected, he said. He also wants to shift the way education is funded closer to an income-based system. 

“As a leader, I think that my greatest strength is that I’m able to work with people on the other side of the bargaining table,” said Mills, who is the president of his local teacher’s union and also sits on the board of directors for Vermont-NEA. “I want to help our three towns thrive, and I want to help improve the lives of the people that live in them.” 

Meanwhile, Priestley’s involvement with local, regional and statewide nonprofits as well as leadership roles on various town commissions over the past 13 years have led her to run for office this term. 

“(I) have experienced firsthand the challenges and opportunities that we need representation to address in Montpelier,” she wrote to the Valley News. “The key areas that I would like to focus on are community and economic development.” 

Issues such as housing, child care, climate action, broadband access, support for seniors, hunting and trapping regulation, and abortion rights are a few of the things that voters have told Priestley they are concerned about, and which she plans to address if she’s elected. 

Priestley works for the Seattle-based CampusCE Corporation developing websites for colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada; she also is the founder and executive director of The Space on Main, a Bradford-based nonprofit and community meeting space. 

Priestley said she wants to take action on issues including workforce education, small business support, and health care and mental health initiatives. 

Priestley wants voters to know that she would not go to Montpelier to push any agenda; rather, to “represent the public’s voices and needs,” she said. 

“As a public servant, my goal is to listen, learn and deliver solutions that improve the quality of life for those I serve,” she said. “I want more than anything for constituents to find their voices and to share them with whomever is chosen to represent them.” 

Polls in all three towns will be open from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Aug. 9. In Bradford, polling will be at the Bradford Academy Building, 172 North Main Street. In Fairlee, polling will be at the Fairlee Town Hall, 75 Town Common Road. In West Fairlee, polling will be at the Community Building/Town Office, 870 VT Route 113.

Rose Terami can be contacted at

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