Head of Rutland’s Board of Aldermen running for city mayor – Brospar Daily News

Rutland — With half a year to go until Town Meeting Day, the local campaign season in Rutland has begun.

Rutland City Council President Mike Doenges began his campaign for mayor this morning, saying revitalizing the city requires long-term planning. His priorities include reversing a decades-long population decline, creating more housing and attracting new businesses.

“Rutland needs a goal post, a goal to shoot, one we can all see and say, ‘this is where we’re going,’” Doenges, 42, said after officially announcing his candidacy. local residential area.

Doenges, who grew up in the city, said his overarching goal was to help Rutland innovate and re-evolve into a place future generations will choose to build their lives. He lives in Rutland with his wife, Rutland City School Board member Sara Atkins-Doenges, and their two teenage children.

“The idea that Rutland is a viable, welcoming, fun, enjoyable place to live with great opportunities is really what drove me to do it,” he said.

Doenges, who worked in sales at tech company Cisco Inc., said he decided to enter politics in 2021 after hearing that current Mayor David Allaire might not be interested in re-election beyond this term.

Allaire was first elected in 2017 and was re-elected twice. He could not be immediately reached for comment Friday morning.

With the mayor’s office out of the way, Doenges ran for a council of city councillors last year — his first elected position — and sought the chairmanship in March.

“I don’t want to go into it blindly,” he said. “I really wanted to understand the inner workings of the city.”

Doenges said he was not registered with a political party.

Rutland is just one of eight Vermont municipalities with a mayor. The others are Barre, Burlington, Montpelier, Newport, St. Albans, Vergennes and Winooski.

Rutland City Council Chairman Mike Doenges, surrounded by family and friends, announced his candidacy for mayor on Friday, September 23, 2022. Photo by Tiffany Tan/VTDigger

Doenges believes that developing a master plan that spans 20-25 years is key to revitalizing Rutland.

He said the scheme would make it easier to attract property developers who knew there would be a steady market for their developments. Building new housing in the currently tight housing market will attract more workers to the city, including highly skilled professionals, which Doenges said in turn would boost the commercial sector.

As mayor, Doenges said he will also emphasize government accountability to ensure plans are followed through.

During the 20th century, Rutland recorded its highest population of 19,293 in the 1970 U.S. Census—Vermont’s second-largest city after Burlington.

But since the 1980s, while Vermont’s overall population has grown, its population has steadily declined. The city’s population rose from 18,436 in the 1980 US Census to 15,807 two years earlier. It has slipped to fifth largest city, being replaced by Essex, South Burlington and Colchester.

Since joining the Council of Councillors in March 2021, Doenges said he has already begun implementing some of his revitalization ideas. He said the board is working on a program where the city will provide low-interest loans to support the renovation of owner-occupied multi-unit rentals at market rates.

Doenges said he also strongly supports local placement refugees. For example, dozens of Afghan refugees have been resettled to the Rutland region since the beginning of the year.

Up to 75 refugees are planned to be brought to Rutland County over the next 12 months, according to the U.S. Refugee and Immigration Council, a resettlement agency contracted with the federal government.

“I think over time the whole community has become very pro-refugee,” Doenges said. “They are already adding value to our community.”

This story will be updated.

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