Chester candidate to request recount in close race; results from other area towns

This story has been updated to include results from Landgrove

Chester Select Board candidates campaign outside Town Hall on a chilly election day on Tuesday. From left are Heather Chase, Leigh Dakin, Will Hoser and Scott Blair. Photo by Cynthia Prairie.

By Shawn Cunningham and Cherise Madigan
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Chester Select Board candidate Scott Blair says he will request a recount after falling six votes short of taking a 3-year term last night as incumbent Heather Chase appeared victorious with 251 votes to Blair’s 245.

“With such a close result … I owe it to my voters and myself to ask for a recount and will accept the results,” said Blair on Tuesday night.

“It’s a close vote and if that is within the parameters of what can be done, he should feel  free exercise that right,” said Chase who also praised Blair and Jeannie Wade for running for office. “It’s great to have competition. Democracy works with participation.”

According to Vermont statute a candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is 5 percent or less of the total number of votes cast in the race divided by the number of seats available. In this case, there were 525 votes cast for one seat. Five percent of that would be 26 votes. The law also says that the candidate has 10 days to request the recount. At the time of publication, there was no word on when the recount could be done.

This story will be updated.

Several other area towns did their town meeting voting by Australian ballot and reported results to The Telegraph. Results from those towns will be published as they become available.


Select Board member Maddie Bodin speaks to the issue of damage done by ATVs to town roads. Image courtesy of Okemo Valley TV

On Tuesday, 118 Andover voters cast Australian ballots rather than voting from the floor as is customary for that town. The only contested race was for the two one-year Select Board seats. Newcomer Scott Kendall won handily with 93 votes while incumbent Jed LaPrise took the other seat with 78. Jason Olney received 28 votes.
Note: in an earlier version of this story the Kendall and LaPrise vote totals were reversed. They are now correct.

The proposed budget of $884,374 (with $745,874 being raised in taxes) passed by of 105 to 11 and voters also agreed to split the previous year’s surplus of $24,000 between the Highway/Bridge and Capital Equipment funds by 111 to 5.

The one controversial article would authorize the Select Board to draft an ordinance allowing the use of all terrain vehicles on Andover town roads. Such a draft ordinance would then have to be voted on at a subsequent meeting. That passed 69 to 46.


Cavendish residents cast 163 votes on Tuesday although only one race was contested. In that race,  incumbent Michael Ripley defeated Michael Kell for a three-year term on the Select Board. Kell was a member in the past but resigned before his term was up. The vote in that race was 89 to 58 with eight ballots blank.

The town’s $1.6 million budget passed handily, 132 to 24. But the voters, in a 77 to 72 vote, rescinded the Australian ballot method of adopting or amending the Town Plan in favor of authorizing the Select Board to do it.

Two of the town’s three seats on the Green Mountain Unified School District remain open after no one ran for either seat. Someone could have been elected with a minimum of 11 write in votes, but one seat had eight write-ins while the other had nine.


Moderator Bill Dakin leads the Chester informational meeting on March 1 Image courtesy of SAPA TV

Apart from the Chase/Blair contest, in unofficial results,  voters returned both incumbents to their one-year terms with Leigh Dakin bringing in 377 votes and Jeff Holden taking 328. Challenger William Hoser received 269. A total of 545 voters cast ballots.

Chester’s ballot ran to 21 articles plus the election of town officers, but there were only the above two contested races and little controversy around the articles with most passing by wide margins.

Voters passed the town’s $3.3 million budget 488 to 53 and the nearly $900,000 capital expenditures passed by a vote of 468 to 73. The only articles that drew any substantial number of ‘no’ votes were those exempting the Chester Rod and Gun Club, Green Mountain Softball and the Olive Branch Lodge from property taxes, with 180, 154 and 192 no votes respectively.


Voters in Grafton had several interesting questions on the ballot including a ratification of Westminster’s withdrawal from the Windham Northeast Elementary Union School District, which was passed 190 to 18. That leaves Grafton and Athens in the district and sets up the Vermont State Board of Education for having to decide whether or not to allow the split.

Grafton mailed ballots to all registered voters, who weighed in on questions having to do with the Town Plan and who should have the authority to adopt changes. On Article 15, residents voted 123 to 84 to rescind a measure adopted in 2019 that took that authority away from the Select Board and put such decisions to the public by Australian ballot. Ironically, in Article 14, the voters overwhelmingly (196 to 16) adopted amendments to the Town Plan offered by the planning commission in December of 2020

The town’s $600,000 highway and bridge budget passed 193 to 24 and the select board’s budget of $227,813 also passed but by the smaller margin of 176 to 37.


Landgrove, which is known for its heavy voter participation in previous elections also seems to be a model of consensus. Of the 141 residents on the voter checklist, a total of 71 voted with 28 of those voting early. There were four articles of town business and every one passed without a single no vote and nine of the ten town officer positions were elected with between 65 and 68 votes each (not including those left blank.) The tenth was a lister position for which there was no candidate and Victoria (Duffy) Tomkinson was elected with 16 write-in votes.

According to Town Clerk Chrystal Cleary, a normal Town Meeting Day attracts between 45 and 50 voters, but mailing out the Australian Ballots increased participation by more than 50 percent.


The Town of Peru’s informational meeting held on March 1 Image courtesy of GNAT TV

Peru voters shot down a petitioned article that would have authorized that Select Board to allocate $200,000 for a pavilion on the town Green where an ice rink has become a popular winter attraction. The pavilion was seen as a way to keep snow off the rink thus lessening the need for volunteers to clear snow throughout the winter.

Select Board Chair Jon Mowry made it clear in the informational meeting Monday night before Tuesday’s vote that the proposed pavilion had not been discussed in-depth by the board due to the stresses of the pandemic and that there are no plans and no budget yet. The pavilion article was the only one that voters did not pass.

Otherwise, Peru’s residents passed a budget that was little different from the previous year and elected town officers who ran unopposed. Two town offices — auditor and cemetery commissioner — had no candidates on the ballot and will need to be appointed by the Select Board.


The town of Windham mailed ballots to all of its registered voters and 192 of them responded. All of the races for public offices in town were uncontested except for school board positions where Beth McDonald prevailed over Erin Kehoe in a tight race. The vote there was 98 to 90.

Carolyn Partridge also won a seat, filling out the balance of a term that will end in 2022. Partridge took 102 votes to Bridget Corby’s 86. No one was on the ballot for the school district treasurer spot, but Kathy Scott was elected to the position with 27 write-in votes.

The general fund and roads budgets both passed by wide margins.

Green Mountain Unified School District

The voters of Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester voted 546 to 293 to pass the district’s $14.2 million budget, which represented a .94 percent increase from last year in spite of a 14 percent increase in spending – mostly special education – by the Two Rivers Supervisory Union, which assesses its spending back to its districts since it is not an entity that can levy taxes.

The select boards of Baltimore, Weston and Londonderry decided to postpone their town meetings until later in the spring as the Vermont legislature allowed through Act 162.

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