By Jacob Knipes
It will be a quick end for Devon Neary’s time as a Rutland City Alderman, and a new beginning for his time with the Rutland Region Planning Commission. In a press release on June 21, the RRPC announced that Neary would become its next executive director and step away from the Board of Aldermen to focus on his new role.
“The Rutland Region holds a very special place in my heart, which is ultimately what motivates me to work hard every day to help our towns realize and achieve their goals,” Neary said in a statement. “I am excited to continue the RRPC’s legacy of collaboration in creating strong local economies and vibrant communities.”
Neary joined the RRPC as a transportation planner in 2018, and has overseen projects with a focus on placemaking and public transit. “It has truly been a privilege to serve our communities as the transportation program lead, and I cannot think of any higher honor than to serve as the RRPC’s next executive director,” Neary said.
Neary was elected to the board in March of last year as part of the progressive “Rutland Forward” slate. During his freshman term he served as chair of the charter ordinance committee and vice chair of the public works committee. Alderman President Mike Doenges, who ran alongside Neary in 2021, described Neary’s departure as “bittersweet.”
“Devon is a fantastic asset not just to the Board of Aldermen but to Rutland city as a whole, and the Rutland area quite honestly,” Doenges said. “So having him step down from the board, although disappointing and difficult because he added a ton of value and is a fantastic leader, is very bittersweet actually because Devon’s role at the [RRPC] is one that will continue to benefit the city of Rutland now that he’s taking over [executive director] there.”
Doenges called Neary “easy to work with,” specifically citing Neary’s abilities to find common ground and focus on the community. “Every decision that Devon has made, everything he has worked on, everything he’s voting for, every topic that he has brought up has been to benefit Rutland as a whole, and he did everything from that perspective and I try to do the same,” Doenges added.
Alderman Chris Ettori, who was chair to Neary on the public works committee, said he was sorry to see Neary step down, but made clear how important he feels Neary’s new role will be.
“As the RRPC exec director, Devon will have more influence and will be able to make a strong positive impact with projects that directly benefit the city, and hopefully can help lead some necessary redevelopment projects within the city to fruition that have been languishing for some time, like the blighted Route 4/7 intersection,” Ettori said.
With Neary’s seat vacated, it is now Mayor David Allaire’s job to nominate a replacement to finish Neary’s term. Ettori expressed that he wants Neary’s replacement to bring new ideas and experience.
“Devon’s voice on the floor mattered,” Ettori said. “He was often one of the few who would engage in a discussion in a board meeting. His replacement should be someone who can hit the ground running, who has ideas and experience that we can benefit from, and who is willing to challenge the status quo to help Rutland move forward.”
While Doenges didn’t name names, he said he had a few people in mind to fill the vacancy that he would recommend to Allaire. Doenges described his idea of a good candidate as an active community member willing to listen to and understand what others say to make progress for Rutland City.
Although Neary is now “outside of the rail,” Doenges made clear he will still be important to the board moving forward as they look to cite his expertise and experience for future projects. Neary will also be left on as a member of the traffic safety committee. “If I have anything to say about it, Devon is not going to get away so easily,” Doenges said.