Wednesday night, four candidates took the stage at the College of Saint Joseph’s, but only one will be the next mayor of Rutland.
The topic of discussion was economic development, a critical issue for the city. Incumbent Mayor Chris Louras is hoping for a sixth, two-year term.
Louras’ opponents include current alderman member, David Allaire. He said one of the city’s economic challenges includes problems with the city’s transportation.
“That is a challenge that we need to build on and talk about with our partners up in Montpelier,” said Allaire.
Kam Johnston, who’s running for multiple city positions, said an aging and declining population was a problem for growth.
He said Rutland could learn from Bennington.
I would find out what they’re doing because there have to be some investors there that would be willing to come up a little further and take advantage of that,” said Johnston.
Michael Coppinger, Executive Director of Downtown Rutland Partnership, said he wants to broaden the tax base. “[We can do so by] establishing a one percent options tax, like Middlebury and Killington, to help broaden and bring more money in so we can pay for infrastructure that we need,” said Coppinger.
Mayor Chris Louras says a lack of private investments is holding the city back.
“To get Rutland to be a TIF district which would provide those economic incentives for the private developers who have been making investments in Rutland, and will make further investments,” said Louras.
Rutland residents will vote on March 7.