Bock wins Democratic Primary in Windsor 3-1; victory in November seems assured

By Shawn Cunningham and Cynthia Prairie
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Tom Bock sprinted to a victory over Melody Reed in the Democratic Primary for Vermont state representative from the Windsor 3-1 District, which includes Chester, Andover, Baltimore and North Springfield.

Despite ballot counting glitches in Andover and Baltimore, by 9:30 p.m. it appeared that Bock had clinched the victory, with a total 314 votes to 283 for Reed.

Tom and Mariette Bock

Tom Bock, right, and his wife Mariette in front of their Chester home. Photo from Bock’s Facebook page.

Here’s the breakdown by towns:  Polling 251 votes to Reed’s 209 in the town of Chester, Bock, a former Chester Select Board member, benefited from a large turnout and name recognition. Town Clerk Deb Aldrich said that a total of  468 Democrats ballots were voted compared to 182 Republican and two Progressive ballots.

Baltimore Town Clerk Deborah Bean told The Telegraph that the race was close with Reed scoring 13 to 12 votes in a town that cast 25 Democratic ballots and 19 Republican.

By 9:30, Andover Town Clerk Jeanette Haight was able to report that Bock had taken 40 votes to Reeds 37.

And results from No. Springfield on the Vermont Secretary of State’s website showed that Reed scored 24 votes to Bock’s 11.

All results still must be finalized by the state. You can read our earlier story here.

With no candidates from any other party stepping up to run, and no Republican winning since Erron Carey won her second term in 2003, Bock’s victory in November is a shoo-in. And in an interesting twist, during Tuesday’s voting, Republican and Progressive decided to write in candidates in enough numbers — at least 25 — to put a candidate on the November ballot, if that candidate agrees.

In this case, that candidate is Democrat Tom Bock, who could add “Republican” to his designation on the November ballot, becoming the candidate of not one party but two. Bock received 44 Republican write-ins in Chester, six in Andover and two in Baltimore, and can now ask Secretary of State Jim Condos to add the Republican designation to his name in November.

Acknowledging this, Bock said he would give the idea some thought.

A tough battle to victory

It was a hard fought battle for the seat in Montpelier being vacated by state Rep. Leigh Dakin, with the only candidates — two Democrats from Chester –going door to door on the hottest and at times wettest of summer days to talk with potential voters. If lawn signs could cast ballots, their sheer number — popping up like dandelions — was enough to indicate that the vote could be close.

Both candidates also utilized social media as well as telephone trees and open houses to get their messages across to the public.

Melody Reed and Friends

Melody Reed, center, with supporters at Chester Town Hall. Photo from Reed’s Facebook page.

For a first run for elective office, Reed, a lifelong Vermonter, managed a polished campaign that included pamphlets, a website and videos that helped to bring her within spitting distance of a win. Speaking to The Telegraph late Tuesday night, Reed called the close election “a surprise … I was really, really surprised that it was very close. I want to commend Tom for the very civil campaign he ran. I came away from the race with a greater understanding of my community.”

Reached at his home Tuesday night, Bock said, “I’m honored, humbled to represent the people of this district. It was an honest and civil race. We both worked hard in this heat, getting out to meet people and I have to say I’ve found Melody to be a really nice person.”

Bock’s next step as a state rep will be “training on everything from the process to where to hang your coat … I’m interested in the education and natural resources committees because I think those have a direct impact on our area. I’d like to be on a committee where I can help to work some things out.”

As for a future in elective office, Reed, who is an earring designer, said, “I’m going to give it some thought for a while and maybe give it another run. For now I have to get back to my business, which has been on hold. I have a number of shows coming up and my inventory is low so I’m going to be a busy artist for the next few months.”

Bock, who has lived in Chester for 45 years, is a former small business owner and has served on elected and appointed boards within town and regional government, including the Chester Select and Planning boards, and as chair of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission. He and his wife have three children and five grandchildren.

Reed, also a Chester resident, is an 8th generation Vermonter who is a founder of the Springfield Steampunk Festival. She and her husband have three children and three grandchildren.

McCormack, Clarkson, Nitka win Democratic Senate race in Windsor

The other contested local race was for the Democratic nomination for the Senate representing Windsor County (along with Londonderry in Windham County.)

Running for three seats were Alison Clarkson of Woodstock, Connor Kennedy of Hartland and incumbents Dick McCormack of Bethel and Alice Nitka of Ludlow.  Incumbent Democrat John Campbell, president pro tempore of the Senate, decided not to seek re-election, leaving the door open to newcomers Clarkson and Kennedy, who served as Campbell’s deputy chief of staff .

With 24 or 27 districts reporting, McCormack has received 20.87 percent (4,307) of the vote with Clarkson at 19.85 percent (4,096) and Nitka at 17.81 percent (3,676). Kennedy trails with 14.05 percent of the vote, or 2,900 votes.

On the Republican side, Mark Donka of Hartford, Randy Gray of Springfield and Jack Williams of Weathersfield ran uncontested. The three Democrats and three Republicans will face off in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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