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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



A Democrat for secretary of state

Wow. The hot race in 2010 may be for secretary of state?

Democrat Charles Merriman, 50, of Middlesex, threw his hat in the ring today. Chris Roy, a Republican from Williston announced his interest a few weeks ago and has formed an exploratory committee.

Why all this activity? Because Deb Markowitz, current Democratic officeholder, is exploring a run for governor.

So who is Merriman? Here's what his press release says: He's a municipal attorney and partner in the law firm of Tarrant,Marks & Gillies. He's a former assistant attorney general who specialized in property tax issues.

"Vermont should have a Secretary of State who understands the needs of Vermont municipal officials in serving our fellow citizens," Merriman said. He promises to "ensure that Open Meetings and Public Records laws are respected and that the rights of voters, taxpayers, and citizens are protected." He notes those are causes Markowitz championed.

Merriman plans to head out on the campaign trail soon -- visiting every town to talk to local folks and officials about their concerns.

So I wonder what he thinks of instant runoff voting?

-- Nancy Remsen

It sounds like Merriam has a lot of relevant experience. That's good for Vermonters.

Roy is already trying to politicize the office, taking divisive stands on controversial issues instead of focusing on the job.
It all seems so perverse ;)
I'd like to see IRV used for all elections, in addition to the Republican party getting its act together in this state so it won't immediately lose the governor spot in an IRV election.
Either one of these individuals would be an improvement over the incumbent. Talk to the people that work there, and talk with the VSEA . . .
Prior hands on experience working with municipal government officials and individuals...Sounds like an upgrade to me....
You have got to be kidding........
And Markowitz didn't politicize the office? Her picture is on every communication ever sent out. I spent some time with other Sec's of State and not one of them had anything, ANYTHING, nice to say about Madam Secretary...she was always promoting herself. Vermonters would be fools to even consider her for Gov. Of course most did vote for the boob on Pennsylvania Ave so I shouldn't expect anything less from them in this case.
I do this whenever I can, don't know if you'll post it. Just how I feel about this. NO MARKOWITZ, NO MARKOWITZ !!! Thank you.
No one loves self promotion more than Deb - even at the expense of others!!! And believe me not all of us Town Clerks love her - that is a myth.
Jim Douglas loves self promotion more than any politician alive.

Deb has done a great job. People are attacking her personally but they can't point to specific things she's done that they don't like. She's run the SOS's office very effectively.
Merriman said in the Times-Argus that he is opposed to IRV. Good for him! I would much rather have a run-off of the top two candidates, if neither gets 50%.
Ralph Nader would love you...
" Merriam...is opposed to IRV." That's too bad. It works well and is very practical.
Markowitz has not supported IRV.

She is great as a Secretary of State but that is not the same as Governor - she should stay where she is. Personally she is great but professionally she would be better suited to the Sec of States office.
"Markowitz has not supported IRV." That's too bad, too.
it isn't up to the SOS to decide if Vermonters use IRV.

That's up to the Legislature and the Governor.

The SOS is there to comply with the voting laws ... not to write them.
Hard to disagree with the writers here that have identified Markowitz as a self promoter. She is overly ambitious and will take out those who get in her way. Over the years she is issued questionable, if not politically driven, interpretations of statutes such as the debacles she got into with her twisted interpretations of the open meeting law and her advocacy against a bill improving Vermont's open meeting law. The bill she had a large hand in killing would have prevented abuse by selectboards and other governmental bodies with regard to exective sessions, etc.
But what about when a SOS runs for Governor....................
Actually Markowitz __has__ supported instant runofff voting. Google around and find some of her writing on it.

Someone wants runoffs? You can't be serious -- asking Vermonters to come back in December in the middle of the holiday season rather than ask them who their runoff choices are when at the polls in big turnout elections in November? Runoffs also would be a big boon to wealthy donors who would get more clout as the candidates scramble for more cash.
"Roy is already trying to politicize the office, taking divisive stands on controversial issues instead of focusing on the job."

This is a completely ill-informed statement, probably written by a partisan. Please prove it with specifics.

Roy is qualified by years of background and experience in various areas of municipal law to do the functions of SOS in a competent and totally non-partisan way.
I want runoffs after that fiasco of a mayors race!
If you don't think Roy will be a partisan hack of Gov Douglas - you don't know him.

Go back to the Williston Whistle and subsequently in the Williston Observer.

He is conservative - heck he even authored a conservative column for a few issues.
Former Senator Jim Condos should run for SOS - he knows local government as well as anyone having served for many years on City Council, served on Vt League of Cities and Towns Board, served on National League of Cities Board, and served in the state senate.

He knows local process and state process.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, he is not a lawyer!
"If you don't think Roy will be a partisan hack of Gov Douglas - you don't know him.
Go back to the Williston Whistle and subsequently in the Williston Observer.
He is conservative - heck he even authored a conservative column for a few issues."

Thank you for that ill-informed partisan attack. Actually, I do know him -- I've worked in the same office with him for, oh, 16 years. He used to be more conservative than he is now.

But so what? Is Markowitz a "bad" SOS because she's very liberal?

Political philosophy has nothing to do with whether one is competent to carry out the essential functions of the SOS's job. It shouldn't be politicized and Chris won't politicize it -- like you're trying to do with your comment above.

He'll just do it right -- because he's functionally very well qualified for the job.

Just like lawyer Markowitz was.
I think he sounds great. Markowitz is an overly ambitous politician who is addicted to public attention. If she can do the SOS job surely Mr. Roy could.
Pollina for Governor
Abbot for Sec of State
When a member of the Board of Civil wanted to have the BCA reexamine their ballots after the required period they were in storage, Deb Markowitz said that no town could review their own ballots. This was news to most people. This assures that parties can bribe BCA members to commit vote fraud and never get caught. The voters may trust their officials, but we have to be able to verify. In our case, even after a statewide recount showed that the BCA had made numerous errors in just the one race, we were barred from looking at the other races, and the ballots were burned.
So much for transparency in elections. We need to hear were Charles Merriman stands on this. Do voters have the right to check on the performance of their own BCA, or is it," pay who counts the votes" if you want to win? Both parties seem to favor corruption in elections and to not allow the actions of the BCA to be reviewed.
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