Montpelier residents to vote on new mayor

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 11:13 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 11:26 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Montpelier voters will choose the city’s next mayor on Town Meeting Day.

Three candidates are vying to take the place of former Mayor Anne Watson, who was elected to a state Senate seat in November. the candidates include lawyer and sitting council member Jack McCullough, workshop consultant Richard Sheir, and sustainability advocate Dan Jones.

“I truly think this is the best place in Vermont to live,” said McCullough, who has spent five years on City Council. “We worked our way through the pandemic and came out pretty well. We have created, planned, and completed our first step of our sewer treatment plan.”

He’s running against two other long-time residents who both say the city’s infrastructure issues are what encouraged them to run -- specifically, the city’s aging water system. “We’re not going to have a sustainable city if we don’t have clean water that’s predictable and affordable. So, I decided then, I’d do a run for mayor,” Jones said.

“We know where the water mains are, they’re all mapped out,” Sheir explained. “But much of it was done long ago and is guesswork. But when it comes to repairing it, they have cost overruns and project overruns.”

Jones and McCullough both say workforce housing needs to be prioritized. “We have projects that are in the planning process that I hope we can bring to fruition,” McCullough said.

“If we don’t find a way of making housing happen immediately, not 10 or 15 years down the road, we’re going to be losing the teachers, doctors, lawyers, that we need to keep things running,” Jones said.

Sheir disagrees. “The housing craze we’re going under is massively overblown and oversold,” he said.

Each candidate says their approach to problems is what sets them apart. “I’m the only candidate saying you might not want to hear what I’m saying,” Sheir said. “When someone says you might not want to hear what I’m saying and there’s two things; one is they’re probably telling the truth and not spinning.”

“I come at it from a different point of view. I come at it from the point of view of somebody who cares about resilience,” Jones said. “Which means, how are we not only operating today, how are we operating in the future? We keep thinking tomorrow is going to look like yesterday and it isn’t.”

“I also have a broad range of knowledge of all the things city government does and I think that knowledge is essential to being an effective mayor,” McCullough said.

Montpelier residents will also be voting on the school budget, funds for the library, and compensation for council members and the mayor.

Town Meeting Day is on March 7th. Polls in Montpelier will be open until 7 p.m.