(Host) At next month’s town meeting, voters in Rutland City will not only decide which aldermen they want, but how they’re elected.
Currently, the city’s 11 aldermen are chosen by voters in the entire city.
But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, many want to change the city’s charter so they can be elected by neighborhood.
(Keck) Mary Anzalone lives on Rutland’s southwest side and says she likes the idea of having two Aldermen elected from each of the city’s four wards.
(Anzalone) “People in the north don’t know what’s going on in our part of town and if you get two candidates they know what’s going on in our part of town.”
(Keck) In addition to the eight aldermen elected by ward, three would still run on a city-wide basis. Steve Howard – a member of the Board of Aldermen and a mayoral candidate, has been one of those pushing hardest for the change.
(Howard) “It shakes things up in city hall and says no neighborhood will be left behind. Ten out of eleven aldermen live in the same two wards.”
(Keck) Howard says it would also encourage more people to get involved in city government.
(Howard) “I mean if you’re a mother with three kids and you’re real busy you may not have time to run city wide. But you might think you could go door to door in just my quarter of the city. That’s what the insiders are afraid of. They’re afraid more people are going to run and they’re going to have to defend themselves and be more accountable than they are now.”
(Keck) But others argue that ward based elections could lead to cronyism and give the mayor too much power.
Jerry Kreitzer, one of six candidates running for mayor says he understands the appeal of ward based elections.
(Kreitzer) “But when I look at the problems of the city – the problem of accountability, the problem of fiscal mismanagement, the problem of people not treating each other very well and actually fighting, I don’t’ see that the ward issue in any way addresses that, and in some ways might make it worse.”
(Keck) Voters will decide March 6th.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.