Independents Goodwin, Dunbar vie for House seat
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | November 03,2012
LONDONDERRY — In the only contested race in Windham County this year, two independents are vying to replace Rep. Oliver Olsen, R-Jamaica, at the Vermont Statehouse.
The two men, Charles “Tim” Goodwin, 66, of Weston, and Emmett Dunbar, 40, of South Londonderry, have been going door to door, putting up signs, sending mail and emails and attending forums.
The two men hope to get elected to the Windham-Bennington-Windsor-1 House District, a district that has always been represented by Republicans or independents. The five-town, three-county district covers towns dominated by two ski areas: Stratton Mountain Resort and Magic Mountain ski area. The towns include Stratton, Jamaica, Londonderry, Winhall and Weston.
Olsen is stepping down after one term following his appointment in January 2010 to fill the seat of the late Rep. Rick Hube, R-Londonderry.
Both candidates say property taxes and economic development top the agenda of the people in the district, in which four of the five towns are so-called sending towns under Act 60, the state’s education finance law.
“The five towns spend $9 million, and send another $22 million elsewhere,” said Goodwin. Only Jamaica is not a sending town, he said.
Stratton doesn’t have a school at all, but still sends $11 million to Montpelier for distribution to other schools around the state, according to Dunbar.
Dunbar said the big flaw was that money from the Education Fund was being transferred to the General Fund, and that the high property values, fueled by the second-home market, were making the payment of taxes difficult for many local people, even given the state’s income sensitivity provision.
Dunbar said he thought the Vermont Lottery, whose proceeds go into the Education Fund, should be contributing more.
Both Goodwin and Dunbar are new to legislative politics, although Goodwin has been elected a lister and School Board member in his hometown, and also served on the Flood Brook Union School Board.
Dunbar has lived in Londonderry for 12 years, and in Vermont since 1997. He and his wife own Anjali Farm, an organic vegetable and herb farm on Middletown Road in South Londonderry.
Dunbar serves on the board of a local nursery school, and is deeply involved in local farmers markets.
Goodwin, who was born and brought up in Weston, left his hometown after college but returned about 20 years ago.
“When I was a kid, I sold skis at Stratton,” said Goodwin, who is an accountant.
Dunbar, a native of Rhode Island, moved to Londonderry after living in Europe, Asia and California, gaining experience working at farms and farmers markets. “I feel like I’ve come home,” he said, noting his mother’s family has deep roots in Vermont, both in Windsor and Swanton.
Since he and his wife established Anjali Farm, he has worked with farmers markets in Londonderry, Manchester and Chester.
“My number one thing is that I am sincere and I have an ability to get along with people,” he said, noting that under his leadership the Londonderry Farmers Market had doubled in size. Dunbar established the Vermont Farm Trail, a promotional guide featuring enterprises that offer fresh locally grown food, like farmstands, restaurants, inns, and farmers markets. He also has worked closely with NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
Since establishing his farm, he has worked in human services, education and agriculture. Last winter he taught at the Stratton Mountain School.
“My concern is how are we going to take care of the young people and make sure they stay here, and how are we going to increase services for the aging and retirees, so they can stay here?” Dunbar said.
Both say they deliberately chose the independent label, rather than Republican or Democrat. Both point to a long list of endorsements from Vermont political leaders and local townspeople as proof of their bipartisanship.
“I am an independent and I have support from both sides of the aisle,” said Goodwin, who is universally known as Tim. “I think it’s a good way to represent the district. I have good support and I don’t know which party I’ll caucus with. I don’t know if I will caucus,” said Goodwin.
Goodwin’s supporters include the incumbent Olsen, who has been heavily involved in Goodwin’s campaign.
Goodwin also has the endorsements of former Democratic House member Sam Lloyd of Weston, as well as former Republican House member Michael Bernhardt of Londonderry. Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, Senate president pro tempore, has additionally endorsed Goodwin’s candidacy.
Dunbar has the support of Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, and Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington, as well as a number of House members.
Dunbar says he is an independent because that is who he is. “I’ve never been a Republican or a Democrat,’’ he said. “I’ve always looked at politics individually.”
Dunbar says he has always been in a minority, noting that 1 percent of the population are farmers, and only 1 percent of them are organic farmers. “I’m very open-minded, I’ve worked really hard to learn how to listen, to get to know people. I’m absolutely an independent,” he said.
“I’ve voted from Libertarian to Democrat to Green Party to Republican since I was 18,” Dunbar said. “I’m contemporary and I have good ideas.”
Goodwin says he has a “deep-seated knowledge of this district and I have a long history of doing analytical work with numbers.”