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Democrats square off for Windsor County Senate primary

  • Alison Clarkson (Courtesy photograph)

  • Dick McCormack (Courtesy photograph)

  • Becca White (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2022 5:14:45 AM
Modified: 8/3/2022 5:24:19 AM

WOODSTOCK — Three Democrats, including the woman who could become Vermont’s youngest senator, are running for the party’s nomination to the three state Senate seats representing Windsor County.

Becca White, of Hartford, is campaigning alongside incumbents Alison Clarkson, of Woodstock, and Dick McCormack, of Bethel. Weston Democrat Chris Morrow’s name will also appear on the ballot despite the fact that he has since dropped out of the race, citing the disadvantage of his late entry and pressure from other time commitments.

Meanwhile, Dana Colson, of Sharon, and Alice Flanders, of Hartford, are campaigning for nomination in the Republican primary. Early voting in the primaries has already begun and will continue through Monday. In-person voting will occur Tuesday, Aug. 9.

White, 28, is jockeying for the opening left in the three-seat delegation following the retirement of longtime state politician Alice Nitka. A current state representative for the Windsor 4-2 district, White served on Hartford’s Selectboard for four years before her four-year stint in the House. She grew up in Wilder, graduated from Hartford High School and the University of Vermont and now lives in White River Junction.

She says the No. 1 issue that she hears on the campaign trail is affordable housing.

“It’s hard to knock on someone’s door at their home and then have them talk about being frightened about their housing,” she said. She sees the problem as cutting across a number of her priorities and described the pillars of her platform as “the three E’s”: economy, equity and the environment.

“And environmentally, the majority of our financial housing burden comes from heating or cooling costs,” White said, adding that if elected she plans to focus on making weatherization accessible to lower-income homeowners.

Clarkson is seeking her fourth term in the state Senate.

“I’m running again because I love this job,” Clarkson, 67, said in an interview. “I love my work legislating and solving problems for Vermonters.”

Clarkson also served as a representative for the Windsor 5 District in the House for more than a decade. Among her positions on a number of committees, she is the Senate majority leader and serves as the vice chairwoman of the Economic Housing, Development and General Affairs Committee.

“The mood of the electorate at the moment is full of anxiety and anger,” Clarkson said, adding that she meets many people who are frustrated with the federal government. “I remind them that we in Vermont can be models for the rest of the country. Don’t disconnect, because you can help our state set the standard.”

McCormack, 75, slated climate change as a top priority.

“I think people this year are more focused on the economy than on the environment, but if we don’t address climate change, then nothing we do about the economy is worth a thing,” McCormack said.

McCormack, who has served in the Vermont Senate since 1989 — except for a gap form 2001 to 2007 — is the vice chairman of the Institutions Committee and also serves on the Judicial Retention and Natural Resources and Energy committees.

But while he plans to continue pushing environmentally focused legislation, McCormack said he hasn’t lost sight of the bottom line. “We have a budget this year that is about $7 billion of other people’s money, and I take that very seriously,” McCormack said.

McCormack, a former teacher, didn’t meet White for the first time on the campaign trail or even in the Statehouse halls. She was still in high school when she started taking his U.S. History class at the Community College of Vermont.

“I remember going home to my wife and saying, ‘Wow,’ ” McCormack said of White’s time in his classroom. “I’m very proud to have her beside me in this race.”

Windsor County faced Senate redistricting this year, with the addition of Thetford and the removal of Rochester from the district boundaries.

Upper Valley polling places and more information about primary races is online at https://www.vnews.com/Special-Sections/election-2022.

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at 603-727-3242 or fmize@vnews.com.




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