Voters in the Grand Isle Chittenden two-seat House district returned Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson to Montpelier this election, but incumbent Democrat Ben Joseph won’t be joining her.
For the first time in more than a decade, a Milton resident will represent the district: Republican Leland Morgan, a retired Vermont Air National Guard officer, was elected with the second-most votes in the district that covers the Champlain Islands and the West Milton area.
Fellow Republican Michael Morgan of Milton came in third with 1,952 votes, 32 votes shy of his uncle, unofficial results from the Vt. Secretary of State show.
Joseph came in last in the incredibly close race with 1,926 total votes. Johnson, the highest vote getter, finished with 2,100 votes, only 174 more than her former seat-mate.
Unsurprisingly, Miltonians favored their own residents for the seats. Michael Morgan actually was the favorite with 395 votes while Leland Morgan got 390, Johnson 245 and Joseph 179.
Leland Morgan wasn’t immediately available Tuesday night but previously told the Independent he was running because of his concerns with Vermont’s cost of living. He said the state is losing businesses and young people to unfriendly zoning and taxes.
“It is time that we consider this problem, take some action, and get something done,” he wrote in a candidate Q&A in August.
Morgan is also opposed to marijuana legalization and taxation and a carbon tax and believes local control should be returned to school districts. He thinks the state needs to do more to clean up Lake Champlain, a defining feature of his House district.
Reached just after 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Joseph hadn’t yet heard the vote results. He said he was disappointed but not shocked that one of the Morgans prevailed.
“They did a very aggressive campaign,” he said. “They did a lot of door-to-door, and I never saw so many signs in my life. They really put out a big effort. If they got more votes, I think they earned them.”
Joseph, a one-term legislator, won election in 2016 after a primary election recount put him 19 votes ahead of his competitor. Hearing he was only 58 votes shy of victory this time around, Joseph said he’d consult with “political veterans” to see if a recount is possible or worthwhile.
For now, he’s accepting the result and reflected on his two years in the legislature, during which time he served on the House Education Committee.
“Friends that came out to wave with me and support me – it’s been very touching,” Joseph said. “Quite a few people have thanked me for doing this. It’s been very gratifying.”
In the Chittenden 10 House district, Milton voters cast the most ballots for two Republicans to represent them in Montpelier.
Newcomer John Palasik, a retired 37-year Milton police officer, earned the most support with 2,171 votes. Incumbent Chris Mattos got 2,070.
Democratic challenger Todd Buik got 1,465 votes. There were 27 write-ins.
Voters here overwhelmingly supported incumbent Gov. Phil Scott—as did the majority of Vermonters—with 2,781 votes; runner-up Christine Hallquist (D-Hyde Park) earned 944.
Milton’s own Don Turner (R) got 2,684 votes for lieutenant governor, a race he lost to incumbent Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman, who Chittenden 10 voters gave 1,145 votes.
These voters aligned with statewide preferences on other state offices, voting to return Beth Pearce to treasurer, Jim Condos to secretary of state, Doug Hoffer to state auditor and T.J. Donovan to attorney general.
In the Senate race, Chittenden 10 voters gave hometown candidate Dana Maxfield, a Republican, the most votes (1,968), followed by Republican Alex Farrell (1,783), Democrat/Progressive Tim Ashe (1,695), Republican Paul Dame (1,635), Democrat Ginny Lyons (1,609) and Democrat Debbie Ingram (1,497). By 1 a.m. Wednesday, it looked like Chittenden County voters, however, supported returning the six-pack of Dems to Montpelier.
Of the 7,583 registered voters in this district, 3,857 people voted, making for an impressive 51 percent voter turnout.
Detailed results for the Grand Isle Chittenden district were unavailable at press time.