Louras blasts Allaire over campaign
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | March 01,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, left, reads his opening statement while challenger David Allaire awaits his turn during their debate Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre.
The final Rutland mayoral debate Thursday at the Paramount Theatre ended on a harsh note.
Five days before town meeting, Mayor Christopher Louras and Board of Aldermen President David Allaire traded a few barbs in the course of the evening, but it was in Louras’ closing statement that he turned fiery, calling Allaire out over the tone of the campaign.
“He has accused me of not caring about your safety and, in a letter to the editor, accused me of much worse that I will not repeat,” he said.
Allaire penned a letter, published Feb. 22, in which he repeated his campaign’s talking point that Louras “did nothing” during calls for a change in leadership at the police department, followed by a claim that if new policing strategies had been implemented earlier, the death of 17-year-old Carly Ferro “may not have happened.”
Louras further said he would not sling mud back at Allaire.
“I’m not built for his grain of politics,” Louras said. “If you, the voters, want someone who will say anything to get elected, who will do anything to say he is the mayor, there’s your guy.”
Allaire, who spoke last, said it was “unfortunate” that the evening ended that way, but did not address Louras’ remarks further. He closed by saying he had a vision in which Rutland is safe, attractive and affordable, and that the city can accomplish those goals with a successful campaign against drug dealers.
The two candidates did not shake hands following the debate.
The debate had not been without tense exchanges earlier, particularly during the segment in which the candidates got to ask each other questions.
Louras opened by reading two quotes from Allaire, one in which he said the city was not doing anything wrong in terms of economic development and another in which he said Louras had done nothing at all, asking which was the truth. Allaire responded that the aldermen had undertaken the positive efforts, like tax stabilization.
“You have had six years in which to put forth proposals which will put the city forward,” Allaire said. “Doing nothing for 5½ years and then doing something for six months is not acceptable.”
On the same subject, earlier in the evening Allaire had opined that the city might want to take Middlebury’s example and hire a “job czar” to recruit businesses.
Louras countered that the city already had one — Rutland Redevelopment Authority executive director Brennan Duffy.
Similarly, while Allaire thundered that in his first term he would “close every drug house in the city — every drug house in the city,” and claimed the city had not been focusing on the crime issue, Louras countered that narrative by tracing recent police strategies back to 2008.
Following a shooting on Grove Street, Louras said he got Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to visit Rutland and pledge $1.2 million for drug interdiction and treatment in the state. Louras also said he got $50,000 from the Legislature for a drug enforcement officer.
“Now we’re at the point, after reacting and reacting, where we can be proactive,” he said.
There were a few areas of agreement. Both candidates said developing Internet infrastructure was best left to the private sector and praised the planned expansion of the Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum.