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Amid Low Turnout, Rutland Voters Pass Budgets And Elect 5 To Board Of Aldermen

Several Rutland City board of aldermen candidates stand outside one of the city's polling places Tuesday.
Nina Keck
Several Rutland City board of aldermen candidates stand outside one of the city's polling places Tuesday. Ten candidates ran for five seats on the board this Town Meeting Day.

Only about 24 percent of voters in Rutland City cast ballots Tuesday, but those who did come out approved Rutland’s $52,635,059 school budget and the $21,393,763 municipal budget.

During what should have been Tuesday’s lunchtime rush, Rutland ward clerk Hurley Cavacas pointed to a small handful of voters and admitted, “It is kind of sleepy, very much so."

Across town at the American Legion Post, ward clerk Tony Romeo said they usually have people waiting when they open the polls at 7 a.m. But Tuesday morning, he said it was 7:10 a.m. before the first voter walked in.

“I voted in favor everything on the ballot, as far as the budget went," said Cindy Dunigan, one of the Rutland residents who turned out to vote Tuesday.

"The schools, the kid’s museum, RAVNA — the Rutland Area Visiting Nurses. They’re all important services for our community,” Dunigan said as she left the polls.

It was the first budget submitted by Rutland Mayor David Allaire, who said it was about 5.5 percent higher than last year’s. After results came in Tuesday night, Allaire said he felt relieved and appreciated the voters’ confidence.

Rutland voters also approved $329,495 in additional funding requests for about a dozen local organizations, including the Mentor Connector and Boys & Girls Club.


People vote at Godnick Adult Center in Rutland City.
Credit Nina Keck / VPR
At Godnick Adult Center in Rutland City, pictured here around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, the ward clerk reported a lower voter turnout by around noontime than usual.

There was no mayor’s race this year, but in a two-way race for city treasurer, Mary Markowski defeated Kam Johnston. Markowski is a former assistant treasurer, who was appointed acting treasurer when Wendy Wilton left that job to lead the Vermont Farm Service Agency last December.

Ten candidates ran for five seats on the board of aldermen. All three incumbents — Scott Tommola, William Notte and Board President Sharon Davis — won re-election. Matthew Whitcomb and Paul Clifford were also elected.

Clifford has served on the board before. Whitcomb is the only newcomer.

"I see so much potential in this city and I feel as thought I have so many good ideas that I could bring, and I view Rutland as sitting right on the cusp and really just growing and being robust," Whitcomb said Tuesday. 

Notte said he was disappointed by the low turnout but glad voters approved the budgets. 

“This is how we fund our city, this is how we keep things going. This is how we try to maintain and build quality of life," Notte said. "That said, it is a very quiet year. The cycle that isn’t the mayor’s race is always quieter than the other year. People just aren’t as fired up to vote for aldermen as they are to vote for the head of city hall.”

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