Goodwin prevails in 'Mountain towns' race

LONDONDERRY - The Windham-Bennington-Windsor-1 district has a new state representative and his name is Charles Goodwin.

In an unusual race with both Goodwin - known widely as Tim - and his opponent, Emmett Dunbar, running as Independent candidates, Goodwin defeated Dunbar on Tuesday by a 285 vote margin, earning 1,298 votes to Dunbar's 1,013.

"I am truly humbled and honored by the strong show of support," said Goodwin in a statement issued via email. "In a race with two independents, we didn't have the distraction of party labels, so it really came down to who the voters felt was best qualified for the position. I want to thank everyone for participating in the process. Now the real work begins; the state is facing some big challenges, which I look forward to tackling as our next representative."

Goodwin carried four out of the five towns in his district - Londonderry, Stratton, Weston and Winhall - and lost to Dunbar in Jamaica by a very slim margin, 225 to 207. He also won 56.12 percent of the vote to Dunbar's 43.8 percent.

Goodwin replaces state representative Oliver Olsen (R - Jamaica) who also served as the treasurer for Goodwin's campaign. Olsen was appointed to the Legislature in January of 2010 by then-Governor James Douglas following the unexpected passing of the district's state representative, Rick Hube. After serving out the appointed term, Olsen was elected to serve a two-year term in the Legislature in November of 2010. He chose not to seek reelection this year.

Three of the main issues facing the district are property taxes, economic development, and education funding. Olsen said he believed that Goodwin won the election in part not only because he stressed that those three issues would be a priority if he was elected to the Legislature, but because he would be an advocate for the southern Vermont area. However, Olsen said there were also other differences that set the two candidates and helped Goodwin win the election.

"School choice is always a big issue and that's one issue that Tim really talked a lot about, the importance of protecting our school choice options," said Olsen. "Tim was very proactive about that issue and making it clear that he was going to be fighting back [against] some of the continuing attempts to control school choice whereas his opponent didn't talk much about that."

Additionally, Olsen said he believed Goodwin's experience, particularly in the areas of education and finance - Goodwin served on both the Flood Brook and Weston School Boards in the past and also serves as a certified public account (CPA) and as a lister in his hometown of Weston - were significant factors in his election to the position.

"He clearly understands the property tax situation and that was just the theme that I've heard from a lot of people," Olsen said. "His prior experience and his skills as a CPA made him a more qualified candidate in the eyes of many voters. I think the other thing was, his approach was very pragmatic. He didn't make any wild promises, but just focused on the nuts and bolts around education finance and I think people appreciated his realistic approach to addressing those issues."

However, state senator Robert Hartwell (D-Bennington) - a supporter of Dunbar's - had a different take on the factors that contributed to Goodwin being elected.

"I think he had a stronger poll with Republican voters. I think he had a lot of help from the outgoing representative Oliver Olsen who was clearly on Mr. Goodwin's side and I think that was helpful. I think him (Olsen) being on Goodwin's side was probably significant," Hartwell said. " It's a district that usually elects a Republican. Rick Hube represented it for a long time and then Oliver Olsen represented it."

Hartwell continued to say that he believed voters in the five towns probably perceived Goodwin as being more aligned with the Republican Party and Dunbar as more of a Democrat.

On the issues, Hartwell said he believes all the towns in the district have an issue with how the property tax system works and that voters believed Goodwin would be the better choice to address those issues.

"It may be perception that he would be more aggressive and conservative on tax issues. Whether or not that's true I don't know," said Hartwell. "I think the perception was that he would be more in line with Republicans in dealing with taxation. That's my guess in any event."

As of press time, attempts to reach Dunbar for comment were unsuccessful.


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