High voter turnout in Brandon attracts flurry of candidates
By Erin Mansfield
STAFF WRITER | August 28,2014
BRANDON — Neshobe School was a hot spot Tuesday for Rutland County candidates trying to get to Montpelier.
The polling site had one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the state.
By late afternoon, volunteers representing candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, state senator and state’s attorney were actively handing out stickers and literature while urging Brandon residents to cast a primary ballot.
In the evening, Rutland County State’s Attorney Marc Brierre, Sen. Peg Flory, and Senate hopeful William “Tracy” Carris remained.
But while the secretary of state was projecting low voter turnout based on primary turnout percentages ranging from 8.5 percent to 24 percent, Brandon secured 29 percent voter turnout for the primary race, and 35 percent for the local budget vote.
“I think we were on the high side of other places, but that’s just because we had our budget vote,” said Luanne Merkert, assistant town clerk.
A total of 818 people voted in the statewide primary, while 1,007 voted on the town’s spending plan, according to numbers from Town Clerk Sue Gage. There are 2,864 registered voters in Brandon, Merkert said.
Some Montpelier hopefuls did not face primaries, but said they wanted to be at the polls to get the word out that they are running for office in November. Another said she wanted to serve her constituents.
“I always try to go to the various polls whether it’s the November or March election,” Flory said Wednesday. “I figure I should be at the polls whether people want to complain or whatever.”
Brandon is part of the Rutland County district in the state Senate, and has been since 2012, according to the secretary of state’s office.
“I figured there would be a high voter turnout there,” Flory said. “I also knew because of their budget they might have questions or want to ask about state financing.”
She said she was not the only incumbent state senator to stand outside the school, referring to Sen. Kevin Mullin, a Rutland Republican. Flory said most of the questions she fielded were voters’ concerns over state financing of public schools.
“I spent most of the day there,” she said. “As a representative or senator, I think we have a responsibility to be where the voters are. If they care enough to be there, then we have a responsibility to be there.”
Brierre and Carris were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
In the race for Rutland County state’s attorney, incumbent Brierre secured 266 votes in Brandon in the Republican primary while Rose Kennedy, the Democratic challenger, secured 287 votes.