Mill River Dodges a Bullet, and Other Happy Tidings From Town Meeting Day — UPDATED with Rutland Results

It was a bad night for Town Meeting candidates who foam at the mouth over mask mandates and the imaginary evils of critical race theory, as VTDigger reports this morning. David Xavier Wallace and Chad Bushway got curbstomped in their bids for Winooski selectboard; likewise for the three Milton candidates who put out a batshit manifesto; Katie Parent was soundly rejected by Springfield voters; Arlington voters said a resounding “no” to former state trooper Luke Hall; likewise for St. Albans’ Keith Longmore and Kingdom East’s Mathew Johnson…

… and three anti-CRTers were turned back by voters in the Mill River Unified School District — by disconcertingly narrow margins. If a handful of votes had changed sides, the antis would have had a majority on the Mill River school board.

How narrow? Incumbent Liz Filskov beat Nick Flanders by 20 votes. Josh Squier turned back QAnon Jewelry Lady Ingrid Lepley by the same margin. And board chair Adrienne Raymond beat Kristine Billings by about 30 votes.

Yikes.

Double yikes with nuts on top.

As of this writing, we’re still awaiting word on four races for Rutland City school board after they ran out of ballots on election night, resulting in the use of about 250 paper ballots that have to be counted by hand. The big issue in Rutland was the high school nickname; in 2021 the board changed it from “Raiders” to “Ravens,” but pro-Raider candidates won a majority on Town Meeting Day and voted earlier this year to reinstate “Raiders.”

Update: According to Seven Days. only one of the four pro-Raider candidates was elected. The other three seats will be filled by candidates from the “Rutland Forward” slate.

I don’t know whether my pre-election “Dregs of the Ballot” series made any difference by calling attention to far-right candidates who were trying to conceal their true beliefs, but I’d like to think so. Kudos also to Alison Novak of Seven Days and Peter d’Auria and Shaun Robinson of VTDIgger for posting good stories about the phenomenon.

However… I’m sure there were other stealth candidates out there. I’m not capable of tracking all the races in all the towns, and it’d be quite a stretch for any state-level media source to do so. I’d love to see a statewide political entity take on the task of exposing far-right candidates at the local level.

It’d be a big job, but I can think of at least a couple organizations capable of pulling it off. The Vermont Democratic Party has town committees in most towns and cities, and active county committees in all 14 counties, not to mention all those elected lawmakers with strong connections in their districts. The central party could ask everyone to identify stealth candidates, and then publish a complete list. Rights & Democracy might have the capability as well.

It’s not high priority for either group, but it ought to be. Deep-pocketed national conservative organizations are trying to change the system from the bottom up by encouraging stealth candidates for town or school offices. This is a real threat to the future hopes of the Democrats and R&D. They should consider doing something about it.

Check that. They should do something about it, full stop. If not for the light shone on stealth candidates, the anti-CRTers might well have taken over the Mill River School Board, with God knows what consequences for students, parents, teachers and school staff. We have to do what we can to prevent that from happening in future years.

2 thoughts on “Mill River Dodges a Bullet, and Other Happy Tidings From Town Meeting Day — UPDATED with Rutland Results

  1. Kelly Cummings

    “I don’t know whether my pre-election “Dregs of the Ballot” series made any difference by calling attention to far-right candidates who were trying to conceal their true beliefs, but I’d like to think so.”

    I think so.

    Much obliged!

    Reply
  2. Walter Carpenter

    “We have to do what we can to prevent that from happening in future years.”

    One can only hope that your piece helped turn back these people, but you’re right about calling out these candidates wherever and whenever they appear to be seemingly genuine and not financed by the big money far right groups.

    Reply

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