Record number of candidates vie for Rutland mayor, every elected position contested
By Polly Mikula
Rutland City residents are stepping up to lead. At this year’s Town Meeting every elected position is being contested, giving voters many choices. Seven candidates will face off for mayor. Eighteen seek the six seats on the board of aldermen. Seven eye three seats on the school board. Seven vie for city assessor with Barry Keefe retiring. And three will compete for city treasurer.
In addition to the many reasons each candidate cites for being spurred to run for public office, the the state also made it easier to run by waiving the requirement requiring candidates to file a petition with at least 35 signatures due to Covid-19 health concerns.
At the top of ticket Mayor David Allaire seeks re-election to a third term in the office. Opposing him are Chris Ettori and Sam Gorruso (members of the Board of Aldermen), political newcomer Matthew Seager, City activist Kathleen Krevetski, and Kam Johnston and Marge Johnston who have both made unsuccessful bids for the position in the past.
Krevetski said the record turnout for the mayoral race is a good sign. “I think the city is finally waking up, this is a positive sign of civic engagement and civil service,” she told the Mountain Times.
Krevetski, a founding member of Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC), is among the most recent to file to run for Rutland City mayor.
Krevetski believes the local food economy is the driving factor of Rutland City’s future success with the “creation of jobs in the food industry serving as a sustainable, regenerative, locally-sourced economic engine for the Rutland region that will improve the health and well-being of the whole community,” according to a press release announcing her candidacy, Jan. 26.
Allaire reflected on this tenure in office when he officially made his re-election announcement earlier this month. “Public health and safety has been a top priority for my administration, but so has city finances, taxes and fees, and doing all we can to support the business community to be successful. My last three municipal budgets have been flat or presented with very minimal increases,” he said. “During my first term, we successfully completed projects that had languished for years,” he added, pointing to the new municipal swimming pool at White’s Playground, Center Street Marketplace Park, $5 million bond for paving and a bond to purchase the athletic facility at the former College of St. Joseph for the Rutland Recreation Community Center, which “will serve as a gathering place and real Community Center for people of all ages for decades to come.”
Four years ago, in 2017, when Allaire first took office it was “a divisive time,” he said during a Facebook video interview with David Wolk, former superintendent of Rutland Public Schools. “We weren’t talking to each other we were talking at each other… We needed to focus on economic development, streets, public safety, the opioid crisis among many other things.”
“People were looking for leadership, for someone they can count on,” Allaire told Wolk. “That’s what I’ve done for the past four years and I’d like to do it for another two.”
Addressing future initiatives, Allaire wrote, “One of my priorities for the next two years would be to work cooperatively with the Downtown Partnership as well as the newly consolidated REDC and Chamber to focus on vacant downtown storefronts as well as looking at our gateways and vacancies commercially city-wide, and develop new strategies to encourage development and spur growth as well as population here in Rutland City and the greater Rutland region.”
Challenger Chris Ettori, however, thinks more is needed. He’s outlined his agenda on ettoriformayor.com. “I believe a mayor serves Rutland best through well-informed plans and bold action. We need a mayor who will invite people in to advise on issues and then take action, one who understands the need for communication especially when it’s hard, and one who will work to transform challenges into opportunities into action,” he stated.
Matthew Seager agrees that it’s time for a change in leadership. “I decided to run for mayor because Rutland is a special place to me, a city I’ve always been proud to call my hometown, but frankly from a leadership standpoint I believe Rutland needs fresh ideas, new energy, and a mayor that will work tirelessly to move the city forward,” said Seager. “I’ve spoken with hundreds of city residents, business leaders and key stakeholders in recent months and the resounding sentiments are that Rutland is economically-stagnant, people are tired of the status-quo, and residents are starved for progress. Instead of platitudes, residents want action, and I am committed to making things happen for the betterment of Rutland City.”
Sam Gorruso posted on Facebook: ” There’s never been a better time in my life or opportunity for the City of Rutland than right now for me to run for mayor! With the rising costs of property taxes, water and sewer fees and business impact fees that the City of Rutland imposes on property owners, renters and business owners, it’s becoming too expensive of a city to live and do business. That’s why I, Sam Gorruso am announcing my candidacy for Rutland City Mayor!”
Gurruso, citing his experience in business, said his primary objective is to cut spending to make Rutland more affordable for residents and businesses.
The Board of Aldermen will see at least three new members as Lisa Ryan and Melinda Humphrey are not running again and Ettori is bowing out to run for mayor. Those seeking re-election are Rebecca Mattis, Tom Depoy and William Gillam. Those seeking to join the board are: Mike Messier, John Atwood, Rick Battles, John Cioffi Jr., Mike Doenges, Chad Snyder-DeAngelis, Thomas Franco, Russell Glitman, Kam Johnston, Robert Miles, Devon Neary, David O’Brien, Matthew Merritt, Matthew Reveal and Carrie Savage.
Seven eye the three seats on the school board: Marisa Kiefaber, Kam Johnston, Tricia O’Connor, Matthew Olewnik, Charlene Seward, Stephanie Stoodley and Anna Pavio.
Interest in this race has grown since the controversy over the Rutland Raider name. Last year, the school board voted to retire the “Raider” nickname.
For city assessor Kam Johnston, Marge Johnston, Melinda Eaton, Michel Messier, Katie Langlois, Gregory Thayer and CC Wiegel will all vie for the position.