By Katy Savage
Three Democratic candidates are seeking two positions as assistant judge for Windsor county in the primary election on Aug. 9.
David Singer, who was assistant side judge from 2004-2012, is running against incumbent Michael Ricci, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Scott in 2021, and newcomer Alison Johannasen.
Singer, 82, of Hartland, was a police officer for 20 years and served as detective sergeant on the child sexual task force in Chittenden county. He stepped down from his role in 2012 to be a grandparent and spend time on his family Broadway production business. When Covid closed Broadway, Singer shifted his focus. He now runs two classes at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth and is a director on the board of VT Volunteer Services for Animals. Singer isn’t letting his age slow him down.
“I felt like I wanted to get back to work,” Singer said. “I want to do something for the community.”
During his time as assistant judge, Singer, along with former assistant judge Jack Anderson, was part of securing a $2.5 million renovation of the Windsor probate division courthouse in Woodstock.
The assistant judge, also known as side judge, is a unique position. Vermont has two assistant judges in each county, who can overrule a presiding judge over matters of fact, but not matters of law. Assistant judges are also responsible for the county budget, which supports the sheriff’s department, the assistant judge salaries, utilities, maintenance, personnel, and other expenses.
“I think it’s important that you can talk to assistant judges when they’re on the bench,” Singer said. “You get a better flavor when you’re dealing with three people on the bench.”
Johannasen, 48, of Woodstock, has 26 years of experience as a trial attorney and paralegal experience. She said people encouraged her to run for assistant judge in the past.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer as an assistant judge,” she said. “The timing is just perfect for me to do something like this.”
Johannasen has been attending parades and meeting people at events. She admitted the position was unique.
“A lot of people were very unfamiliar that we had side judges,” she said. “I think that it’s an incredible system that the state offers.”
Current Assistant Judge Michael Ricci, of Woodstock, was appointed by Gov. Phil Scott in September 2021 to fill Jack Anderson’s unexpired term. Ricci currently serves with Ellen Terie, who is not seeking reelection.
Ricci, 69, has held senior management and finance positions with Norman Williams Public Library, Windham Northeast Supervisory Union and Dartmouth College as well as for a variety of hotel and restaurant companies. Ricci also has extensive experience in service. He was a justice of the peace in Woodstock, has been chair of the Woodstock Trustees, a member of Dartmouth Hillel board of directors, an advisor to Tucker Foundation Fellows and the Dartmouth Environmental Conservation Organization, president of the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and a community volunteer for the library, youth sports, and school district.
Ricci called himself “fiscally conservative.”
“I understand and appreciate the difficulties faced by individuals and families in our society and work tirelessly to provide fair and appropriately thoughtfulness to judicial decisions,” he said.