In Rutland, the third time was a charm for challenger David Allaire, who unseated longtime mayor Christopher Louras in a surprise upset.
Allaire, a 19-year veteran of the Rutland City Board of Aldermen, won 52 percent of the votes in a four-way race against Louras and challengers Mike Coppinger and Kam Johnston.
Louras, who had held the job since 2007, won 34 percent of the votes; Coppinger won 13 percent and Johnston 1 percent.
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Tuesday night at a local restaurant, Allaire was all smiles.
“It feels wonderful," Allaire said, laughing. "I’m so grateful, I’m humbled, I’m thankful to the voters of the city of Rutland. I think this is an exciting night for the city and it’s a chance to start new and I can’t wait to get to work.”
Allaire pointed to two issues that he thinks swayed voters in his favor. One had to do with the way the outgoing mayor handled refugee resettlement — without informing the board of aldermen or seeking input from local voters. The other, he said, had to do with a controversial restructuring of the city’s fire department.
As a result, Allaire won a coveted endorsement from the local fire fighters union.
The 61-year-old, who works as an outside sales manager for Interstate Batteries, says that as mayor, he’ll focus heavily on job creation and economic development, though he provided no specifics.
"We’re an economically depressed area," said Allaire. "If you walk around downtown, there’s a lot of empty storefronts. There’s no magic bullet to change that, but you have to focus on that and put your priorities on that and get to work."
That pro-business message resonated with Patty Donnelly, a former member of the Rutland City Board of Aldermen, who was among several dozen supporters celebrating Allaire’s victory Tuesday night.
“I really believe in politics, everyone has a time and a place, and it was time for someone new to come in," Donnelly said. "And I think David will do a good job.”
And while Allaire is hardly new to city politics, Donnelly says he will bring a more balanced approach to the mayor's office that she says is needed.
Donnelly and many others in the city admit they were surprised by Allaire’s victory, considering Louras had been mayor for 10 years.
William Notte, president of the Board of City Aldermen said, "It is so unusual for an incumbent to be unseated, it's really a very rare phenomenon. So congratulations to David Allaire, he was incredibly persistent."