Citizens of Rutland, Vermont, let longtime Mayor Chris Louras know they weren’t happy about his willingness to welcome Syrian refugees by using the biggest weapon the American voter has — they booted him out.
Louras lost Tuesday’s mayoral race to City Councilor David Allaire who opposed Louras on several issues, including his refugee resettlement program, WCAX reported.
Allaire, an alderman for 19 years who ran for mayor twice before, led an investigation to determine if Louras had broken any laws with how he handled the plan to bring refugees into the city of about 16,500 residents. Louras introduced the plan last year but did not consult the Rutland Board of Aldermen.
The proposal split the community, with many residents criticizing the plan because of potential security threats or economic burdens.
During his candidacy, Allaire criticized how Louras had announced the program without getting input from the public and city officials. He said the issue wasn’t so much with the city taking in refugees but with Louras’ secrecy about it.
According to The Associated Press, Louras admitted a number of local issues played a role in his loss, but said that he felt his support for a refugee resettlement program cost him re-election.
“Though I wanted to think this was not a referendum on refugee resettlement, I continue to believe, as I’ve articulated, Rutland is a microcosm of the national conversation on immigration and refugees, and ultimately it was not an election on the issues but an election based on emotions,” the five-term incumbent said.
Allaire agreed the refugee question was key.
“Any time any kind of an issue like this comes up, my first stop is going to be with talking with the people and my colleagues and the city of Rutland. They want transparency, they want frankness, and I’m going to make sure from day one that’s exactly what I do,” Allaire told WCAX.
Allaire had tried to unseat Louras twice before, according to the Vermont news site Vtdigger.com — once in 2013 and once in 2015.
But on Tuesday, the outcome was different. Unofficial returns indicated Allaire had won 52 percent of the vote. A candidate has never unsuccessfully run for mayor in back-to-back elections in Rutland and won on the third attempt, according to WCAX.
It looks like Allaire understood the kind of things his voters want — transparency and honesty. That shouldn’t be too much to ask from our elected officials.
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