Louras and Allaire take campaign to finish line
Editor’s note: This is the last of a series of articles looking at the race for Rutland mayor.
By Gordon Dritschilo
Several times during the mayoral race, Mayor Christopher Louras said he was not going to talk about challenger David Allaire.
Louras said he was not running against Allaire, he was just running for office. He repeated this about 20 minutes prior to the debate Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre.
At the end of that debate, he castigated Allaire for the tone of the campaign, calling the president of the Board of Aldermen “someone who will say anything to get elected, who will do anything to say he is the mayor.”
Friday, Louras said he saw no inconsistency between those comments and his previous ones about how he would campaign.
“I did not talk about my opponent or his record or lack thereof specifically,” Louras said. “I was speaking to the tenor, the negative tenor, of the campaign, which does not serve the public.”
He added, “The people of Rutland deserved a positive campaign based in fact. They’ve gotten that from me.”
Allaire, also interviewed Friday, resisted efforts to characterize his campaign as positive or negative.
“I think I’ve run a realistic campaign,” he said. “I’ve tried to put out what I see as the issues.”
Louras also appeared to reference a Feb. 22 letter to the Herald, in which Allaire suggested that if new law enforcement strategies had been in place earlier, the death of 17-year-old Carly Ferro might have been prevented. Allaire rejected interpretations of the letter as blaming Louras for Ferro’s death.
“That is not the case and that is not my opinion at all,” Allaire said. “That is not how I feel, whatsoever. ... The point I was trying to make is the point I was making right along — the voters need to decide whether more should have been done to address the drug problem in the city. Period.”
Louras and Allaire are both veterans of city politics, Louras having previously held Allaire’s current position as head of the Board of Aldermen. Both have represented the city in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Asked Friday what he has learned in public service, Louras, 52, said it was one of the most difficult questions he had ever been asked. He said the role is both extremely rewarding and extremely frustrating.
“We have to be responsible to the public in general while we are not hearing from everyone in the public,” he said. “We are only hearing from a small, small minority of the public. We risk remedying their concerns to the detriment of the masses.”
Louras said his solution is to focus on doing the job as he sees it, knowing that he will serve the public by “creating positive outcomes.”
Allaire was asked the same question.
“I’ve learned there are an awful lot of people, service-oriented people, out there working very hard for the betterment of the community, that in everyday life, people do not have the opportunity to meet and appreciate,” said Allaire, 57. “It gives me great hope for the future.”
Allaire said he had also learned the importance of developing relationships and building trust.
Among his proudest accomplishments, Allaire listed work on the board to stabilize city finances and, during his time in the Legislature, securing funding for transportation projects in the region like the Route 4 and 7 project and the yet-unrealized railyard relocation.
“I think there is still some desire by the (state) and certainly by some folks down here to come to some agreement about what can be done and what we can afford,” he said of the latter project. “There’s still a need.”
For Louras, the top of the list was leading the city workforce through the 2007 Nor’icane and Tropical Storm Irene.
“Beyond that, I’m proud we’ve succeeded in changing the culture in city government from one that focuses on the short-term, myopic perspective to one that recognizes success relied on long-term strategies across all sectors — infrastructure, economic development, public safety,” he said. “It’s been decades and decades coming.”
Allaire said the qualifications he brings are 15 years of public service at state and local level, 15 years of involvement in crafting city budgets as well as some time with a hand in the state budget. Allaire also said 25 years in sales and marketing have taught him how to work corroboratively and develop personal relationships, something “incredibly important” to bring to the mayor’s office.
“What I hope to bring to the mayor’s office is the same kind of leadership and consensus-building I have used on the Board of Aldermen,” he said.
Louras said he has leadership skills honed during more than a decade in the military and that he is “an absolutely resolute decision-maker.”
Rutland voters go to the polls Tuesday.