Of all the legislative districts in our readership area, only one - the "Mountain towns" district that includes the five towns of Jamaica, Winhall, Londonderry, Weston and Stratton - have had a competitive race where two candidates were vying against each other for election.

That in itself is a sad commentary on the state of political affairs in Vermont and an issue we've speculated on before. Whether that's due to a couple of special "one-off" factors is something we'll have a better sense of two years from now. Part of it may be the cost of campaigning; part of it may be the economy and people unable to take time away from jobs for four or five months while they are representing their communities in the statehouse.

Whatever the reason for there being so few races locally - as well as statewide, for that matter - we hope that in 2014 there will be challengers to incumbent officeholders across the board. That's to be wished not because they may be doing a bad job. We are fortunate to have a group of representatives at the moment who in our opinion take their tasks seriously and while we may not agree on all the issues all the time, we respect their service and integrity. But neither should they never be challenged or held accountable in an electoral contest, and hopefully such challengers will emerge in due course.

In the "Mountain Towns" district, we had a further anomaly - a competitve race between two independent candidates.


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Both Charles "Tim" Goodwin and Emmett Dunbar have staged energetic and positive campaigns in their efforts in represent the district. After some careful reflection, we'll give our endorsement to Mr. Goodwin, based largely on his long experience in local government.

Tim has been by turns a school board member, a planning commission member, a lister for Weston, and a member of the Windham Regional Commission over the course of the past 25 years. That's the kind of background that gives him, we believe, a solid grounding in the strengths, as well as the needs, of the district. There really is no substitute for experience when it comes to hitting the ground running, and that is a strong asset Mr. Goodwin offers voters. Both candidates have stressed similar issues and their ideas for approaching them - be they on health insurance, jobs, economic development and so forth - don't sound that strikingly different. We think Mr. Goodwin has a good handle on them and has the quiet, confident manner to work well with other legislators and represent his district well.

That's not to say Emmett Dunbar would not be capable of doing a fine job also, if voters give him the nod on Election Day. He too brings an intriguing background into play, particularly with regard to his work in agriculture and farmers markets. He has campaigned with vigor and energy. It is to be hoped that should he not prevail in this electoral contest, he will remain involved in the political arena going forward. Undoubtedly, he is hopeful that his involvement will come much sooner and more directly, when he takes his seat in Montpelier in January. The voters will decide that one. For now, all things considered, we'll throw our support behind Mr. Goodwin and await further developments.

No commentary on this district and this race would be complete without a final word of thanks to Oliver Olsen, the current representative who filled out the final year of Rick Hube's last term and then represented the district from 2010 until now. Mr. Olsen brought amazing energy and bountiful new ideas to the legislature, and punched far above his weight in Montpelier. He was very strong on tax questions and state financing. He was also among the most accessible of politicians, and brought a strong technological background to his role as a legislator. To say he will be missed is a major understatement. Whoever wins this election has large shoes to fill, and it is to be hoped that we haven't heard the last from Oliver in the political arena either.