Bennington Democrats win state Senate seats

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(Host) Bennington County Democrats came out on top in a four-way race for two state Senate seats.

Incumbent Richard Sears won reelection by a wide margin, along with Dorset Democrat Robert Hartwell.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) No one was surprised that Sears, a seven term incumbent, kept his Senate seat. The fate of the other, open Bennington County seat, was more in question. It was held by Mark Shepard, a Republican who lost a primary bid for the U.S. Senate in September.

The two Republicans competing for the seat campaigned hard on the issue of repealing Vermont’s education funding formula. Stickers with the motto Revolt and Repeal’ were in evidence all over Bennington County on Election Day.

But Democrat Robert Hartwell says the issue isn’t just a Republican one.

(Hartwell) “I think revolt and repeal is an expression of an important issue. I wouldn’t have described it the same way but property taxes are a big problem and people are very concerned about that and we have to deal with it in the next legislature, you know how are we going to pay for education funding.”

(Keese) Hartwell and Sears both say this election was very much about national issues including dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the war.

But Sears says he and Hartwell were on the right side of the local issues too.

(Sears) “In terms of being a realistic look at how we can solve some of Vermont’s problems such as property tax , health care and others as opposed to the revolt and repeal type approach.”

(Keese) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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