BARRE – Democrats trumped Republicans in Barre on Tuesday as Granite City voters easily reelected incumbent lawmakers Tommy Walz and Peter Anthony.
Anthony and Walz finished one-two in what had the makings of a competitive four-way race that saw both well-known Republican challengers – Karen Lauzon and John Steinman – come up short in their respective bids to pull off an upset.
On a day that featured near-record turnout and most – more than 2,963 – of the 3,860 ballots cast arrived in the mail, Lauzon came closest to ousting one of the two incumbents in a citywide election both she and Steinman had run – and lost – before.
It wasn’t nearly enough on Tuesday.
Not in a reliably blue Barre district where Anthony paced the four-member field with 1,911 votes and fellow Democrat Walz/Anthony) claimed the legislative district’s second seat with 1,799 votes.
That created an ultimately inconsequential race for third place between between Steinman, who finished third in the race two years ago and Lauzon, who finished third two years before that.
This year third place went to Lauzon as the local developer who served as Barre’s first lady from 2006 to 2018 finished more than 200 votes ahead of the Ward 1 city councilor and local orthodontist. Lauzon received 1,429 votes in the race, followed by Steinman, who finished fourth with 1,219 votes.
Both Republican challengers lagged well behind Walz, who secured his fourth consecutive two-year term on the strength of his second place finish. Anthony was safer still earning his second two-year term thanks to his first-ever first place finish in a race he’s run only once before.
Anthony welcomed the unofficial results, that despite the heavy turnout, didn’t take long to tabulate.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said. “I admire our opponents and the race they ran.”
Anthony, a former city councilor and one-term mayor, seemed genuinely surprised he received more votes on Tuesday than Walz, whose candidacy he supported.
“I’m humbled by that,” he said.
Anthony said he was proud to have served during an historic session that required lawmakers to work overtime dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Walz, who was at the polls when the results were posted thanked voters for their support, congratulated Anthony on his strong showing and said the pandemic still posed problems that must be solved.
“We need to get through this and come out the other side in good shape,” he said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Walz a retired educator and former school board member, has served as a local lawmaker without interruption since he was appointed to fill a legislative vacancy in 2014.