Times Argus - November 4, 2004
DANVILLE - Senator-elect Jane Kitchel of Danville Tuesday became the first Democrat since 1986 to win one of two Caledonia-Orange Senate seats, unseating Republican incumbent Bernier Mayo of St. Johnsbury.Sen. Julius Canns, R-St. Johnsbury, came in second for the two available seats while Democratic challenger Matt Choate came in fourth."I feel like it was a good campaign. I worked hard and to come in as the top vote-getter in my first campaign is really an honor," Kitchel said Wednesday.
"Everybody had champagne."
Kitchel said she celebrated with up to 60 well-wishers at her sister Kitty Toll's house in Danville late Tuesday night. Early poll results showed her running third to Mayo and Canns in St. Johnsbury and Lyndon, but the election turned around by 11 p.m.
"I started pulling out when Bradford reports came in," Kitchel said, describing how as the night went on, more and more Orange County towns went in her favor.
Bradford gave Kitchel 635 votes with Canns second at 444, Choate third with 417 and Mayo last with 414.
Newbury was also a big win with Kitchel leading the pack at 559 votes - ahead of the second-place Canns, who had 397 votes. She also took Hardwick, Topsham and Fairlee.
Election night was an emotional roller coaster for the Kitchel camp, according to campaign Communications Director Kristin Calkins who said, "It started slow in the beginning, and then she just began chipping away and she chipped her way right to the front. Slow and steady wins the race: that's the campaign of Jane Kitchel.
"I feel really great," Kitchel said Wednesday morning. "Everybody felt it was a good campaign."
Kitchel said a good part of her winning strategy lay in paying up to 20 visits to Orange County, she said.
Kitchel has worked in social services since 1967, rising to the post of Secretary of the Agency of Human Services under then governor Howard Dean in 1999.
She was appointed deputy commissioner of Social Welfare under Madeleine Kunin, where she became commissioner in 1992.
She will attend an orientation for Legislators in November, then will be sworn in with the other new legislators in January.
Her win is interesting because she replaces the political appointee the Douglas administration made in 2003 when former Republican Sen. Rob Ide of Peacham was named energy efficiency director.
Mayo was appointed to replace Ide in March 2003. Ide ousted Scudder Parker, chair of the state Democratic Party, who served as energy efficiency director under the Dean Administration. Parker, a Danville native, said held the senate seat won by Kitchel for four terms, ending in 1988.
"I am just incredibly proud of Jane," Parker said Wednesday. "She ran a very good race and she brings the senate and to Caledonia County the kind of representation that can be of enormous benefit to Caledonia County." Kitchel will be able to work with a Democratic Senate and House majority on health care and energy efficiency, Parker said.
Parker also praised candidate Matt Choate for running a "wonderful campaign that reached the working people." Choate will be a candidate to watch in the future, Parker said. Bob Dixon, political science professor at Lyndon State College predicted a possible win for Kitchel during the polls in Lyndon where he helped out as a poll worker throughout the night, saying she had a lot of ties to the area. He also said the last time a Democrat won a Caledonia County senate seat before Parker was in 1912.