Marthage ousts Bennington state's attorney to take office
By STEPHEN SEITZ Herald Staff | November 09,2006
MANCHESTER — One of the biggest election night upsets in Southern Vermont occurred in Bennington County, where William D. Wright, state's attorney for close to 20 years, was turned out of office by more than 1,100 votes.
With all but a few small towns' results in, Manchester resident Erica Albin Marthage, who once worked in Wright's office, drew 6,674 votes to Wright's 5,532. The only town to support Wright's bid for a sixth term was Shaftsbury, which gave Wright 619 votes to 109 for Marthage.
"The surprise to me was that it was such a big win," Marthage said Wednesday, dismissing the notion that widespread disaffection with Republicans fueled her victory.
"That didn't play a huge part in this race. We still ended up with plenty of Republicans in office."
Wright, who had never before lost an election, said he was caught off-guard.
"It was quite a surprise to me," he said. "I do think I got caught up in the whole anti-Republican thing which swept through the nation. It is too early for me to comment on my future."
The election came in the middle of a high-profile murder trial Wright is prosecuting, in which Peter L. Kulzer of Readsboro is accused of shooting his son's best friend to death. Wright said his defeat would have no effect on the Kulzer trial.
Marthage is a Bennington lawyer who once worked for Wright as a deputy state's attorney. During her campaign, she said that the high rate of turnover in Wright's office was one of the reasons she decided to run.
"I'll be trying to attract more experienced attorneys," she said. "Right now, they're all newbies, and there's one attorney position open now."
Marthage, who takes office in February, said she would use the time to lay groundwork in the community before she takes over.
"I'll spend the next few months establishing closer relationships with other agencies," she said.
Besides stabilizing the staff and building bridges, Marthage has to prepare for two upcoming murder trials and the coming temporary relocation of the state's attorney's office due to a sarcoidosis outbreak in the state office complex.
Marthage has a conflict of interest in one of the murder cases her office will prosecute. Her husband, Brian Marthage, is the defense attorney for former high school social studies teacher Stephen Bolesky, accused of fatally shooting his wife in the back of the head last spring.
"I have a conflict with that one," she said. "Either another state's attorney or the attorney general's office will have to take it over."
The other murder case the office is hand ling involves Christopher Kosmalski and Joshua Gould, who are awaiting extradition from Florida to Vermont. They are accused of murdering Winhall house painter Renato Weiser in May.
Marthage said that while Bennington County has some pending, most state's attorneys don't get a lot of murder cases.
"There is not a lot of murder in Vermont," she said. "But when the time comes, I'll have access to the attorney general's office, like Bill does."
Wright is prosecuting Kulzer with the assistance of Assistant Attorney General David E. Tartter.
Contact Stephen Seitz at email@example.com.
Ed. note, November 10, 2006: A story in Thursday's Herald gave an incorrect result for Erica Albin Marthage's victory in the Bennington County state's attorney position. She won the town of Shaftsbury by 1,001 votes.