The strange fate of the Vermont House seat occupied by Clem Bissonnette grew stranger Christmas Eve.
That's when Bissonnette announced, again, that he would not serve in the legislature because he is moving to Guildhall. The longtime Winooski pol, a Democrat, posted on Front Porch Forum on Monday that he is relocating soon to the small town where his wife grew up.
Meanwhile, Winooski City Councilor Hal Colston, who had sought the seat as a write-in candidate in November, announced on Wednesday that he hopes Gov. Phil Scott will appoint him to the seat.
In an interview Thursday, Colston told Seven Days that he is eager to serve and hopes the governor makes a decision quickly. The Winooski Democratic Committee will submit the names of one or more candidates to the governor shortly, according to Colston. Then it will be up to Scott to choose a replacement.
Colston said that if he gets the nod, he would be prepared to start serving when the legislature convenes in early January. The seat covers all of Winooski and a small section of Burlington.
“Absolutely, and I'd be honored to go,” Colston said.
Courtesy of Hal Colston
Colston said he wasn't sure who, if anyone, might also be seeking the seat. But it's been a confusing last few months for voters — and for him, he said. "It's been a roller coaster ride, I'll tell you," Colston said.
The saga began in September. That's when incumbent Bissonnette announced that he would resign to make the move to Guildhall. Because he made the decision after the August primary, his name would still show up on the general election ballot.
Colston then stepped up as a write-in, but finished third on November 6 in a race for two seats. He garnered 893 votes while Bissonnette collected 1,290 and incumbent Rep. Diana González (P/D-Winooski) received 1,949 votes.
The day after the election, Bissonnette announced that he would serve after all, explaining that "the people want me to go back to Montpelier." At the time, he said he'd consider renting a room in Winooski to maintain residency in the city.
But by Monday, Bissonette had again changed his mind. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
"Sharon and I have sold our house and we will be moving to Guildhall Vt the last week of January or the 1st week of February," Bissonnette explained in his December 24 post. "I have notified Bill Magill the Clerk of the House of my resignation and Kathy Picard the [Winooski] Democratic Committee Chair. Kathy will start the process to replace me. I want to thank all of [the] people from Winooski and Burlington who have supported me these last fifty five years."