By Guy Page
Mike Yantachka, the veteran Democratic lawmaker from Charlotte who fought hard for climate change legislation but was the sole Democrat to oppose Article 22, lost in the August 9 primary to a pro-Article 22 challenger.
Yantachka lost 701-640 to Chea Waters Evans, a longtime journalist and editor of the Charlotte Bridge online community news outlet.
Yantachka has served in the Vermont House since 2011. A member of the House Energy and Technology Committee, he was a leader in the Democratic caucus for several climate change-related initiatives.
Yantachka also is a devout Catholic who has served as a eucharistic minister. After initially supporting Prop 5, on February 8 this year he was the only Democrat to vote no on a roll call vote, which passed by 107-41. Upon passage by the Legislature, it became Article 22. The proposed amendment to enshrine ‘reproductive liberty’ in the Vermont Constitution will go before voters November 8.
At least three Republicans – Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury, Matt Walker of Swanton, and Felisha Leffler of Enosburg – voted for the Article 22. Of the three, Leffler chose not to seek re-election. Neither Walker nor Beck faced a contested primary.
The Charlotte News, the more established community news outlet for the small, upscale, highly Democratic Chittenden County suburb, commented April 12 on the results as follows:
“It is not too much of an assumption to attribute Yantachka’s loss his vote on Proposition 5, a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. After hearing from residents, Yantachka reconsidered his position and said he regretted voting against it.
“In 2019, Yantachka voted for the amendment but became concerned about late-term abortions and enshrining the right in Vermont’s constitution.
“Evans was persuaded to run for the seat because of Yantachka’s vote opposing the constitutional amendment.”
A social media post by Yantachka was quoted in the News: “Upon reflection, I should have supported Prop 5,” adding that he realized his vote had “given the impression that I do not trust woman to make good decisions regarding their reproductive choices.”