Chittenden State's Attorney Sarah George to Seek Reelection, Faces Challenger | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Chittenden State's Attorney Sarah George to Seek Reelection, Faces Challenger


Published May 11, 2022 at 1:15 p.m.
Updated July 26, 2022 at 10:23 p.m.

  • FILE: Sasha Goldstein
  • Sarah George
Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George will seek reelection this year, she announced Wednesday, though the progressive prosecutor faces a Democratic primary challenge that will test the popularity of her reforms.

George, appointed to the post in 2017 by Gov. Phil Scott, said in a video on social media that, after five years in the role, "We have so much more work to do.

"Together, we will continue to build a fair and equitable system for all," said George, who ran unopposed in 2018.

The Chittenden post has been a launching pad for Democratic politicians such as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

George has garnered attention nationwide for her efforts to enact criminal justice reforms, including ending requests for cash bail and declining to prosecute alleged crimes that stem from pretextual traffic stops. Those and other exercises in prosecutorial discretion have incensed many in law enforcement and led to clashes with Donovan, who had previously positioned himself as the foremost elected criminal justice reformer in Vermont.

In 2019, the attorney general took the extraordinary step of refiling criminal charges in three homicide or attempted homicide cases that George had dismissed after concluding her office could not successfully rebut insanity defenses. Veronica Lewis, a mentally ill Black woman, subsequently took a plea deal on attempted murder and gun charges that imprisons her through at least 2027.

George has shown a willingness to prosecute defendants who claim insanity as a defense. Also in 2019, George obtained five murder convictions against Steven Bourgoin, who killed five teenagers in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 89, securing a sentence of 30 years to life. 

Williston attorney and selectboard member Ted Kenney plans to formally launch a challenge to George next week, according to his campaign website.
  • Courtesy Ted Kenney
  • Ted Kenney
The longtime attorney, who worked most recently as Human Services Division chief in Donovan's office, is running on a more "collaborative" platform. His website alludes to law enforcement and business interests in particular and claims that Burlington is losing "major employers" to a rise in theft.

Kenney pledges a tougher approach to property crime than George's.

"[While] restorative justice programs are often justified," his website states, "they simply are not suitable for every single instance of retail theft and burglary."

The primary election is August 9.