Incumbents fair well in Rutland Aldermen's races
03/05/03 12:00AM By Nina Keck
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(Host) The Rutland City Board of Aldermen will include only one new face. Twelve candidates were vying for six seats on the board, but as VPR's Nina Keck reports, five of the six top vote getters were incumbents.
(Mayor John Cassarino) "Number one vote getter with 1,400 is still Michael Coppinger." (Sound of applause.) "Number two vote getter - ah ha! A few minutes ago it was Paul Wilkinson, but it's now Paul Barbagallo." (Sound of cheering.)
(Keck) Rutland City Mayor John Cassarino shouted out election results at a celebratory party Tuesday night in downtown Rutland. Cassarino ran uncontested for a third term, so his victory was assured. The cheering crowd at the Palms Restaurant was more interested in hearing who won election to the Board of Aldermen.
Seven newcomers and five incumbents were fighting over six open seats on the board. Michael Coppinger, who was first elected to the board two years ago, says the fact that all five incumbents won re-election is telling:
(Coppinger) "The people have spoken. They're happy with what we're doing and the vision that the mayor, John Cassarino, as well as the Board of Aldermen have for the city of Rutland. And we're striving to meet those goals and those challenges and I think that we need to stay the course that we're on right now."
(Keck) Coppinger was the top vote getter followed by incumbents Paul Barbagallo, Joe Tilden, Al Wilkinson and Cheryl Hooker. The only newcomer elected to the board is Stephen Reilly, a 49-year-old loan officer and father of five who has lived in Rutland all his life:
(Reilly) "I think it was my commitment to Rutland that came through, through my campaigning and my sincere love of this area. I'm very happy, very pleased with the results of the election."
(Keck) Like many local voters, George Moeckel says he was happy to see so many candidates vying for the Board of Aldermen. He says as a group, the board has some tough issues to tackle:
(Moeckel) "I think the big issue is still the local economy. It's so very depressed and the stimulation of jobs and job growth and economic packages that would help Rutland County. I don't think I'd like to see it like Chittenden is right now, but certainly we need more hope for the young people. The vast majority of young people are finding jobs out of state. Those kinds of issues to me are more important than the election."
(Keck) Despite cold weather and several uncontested races, voter turnout in Rutland City was over 20%. In addition to electing town officials, Rutland voters also approved all 12 articles on the ballot requesting city funding.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Nina Keck in Rutland.