BY STEVEN JUPITER
RUTLAND CITY—The Rutland County Republicans held a breakfast fundraiser at the VFW in downtown Rutland on Saturday morning. Dozens of people showed up bright and early to meet candidates and enjoy coffee and eggs with old friends in local politics.
The event opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, led by Terry Burke of Castleton, the Chairwoman of the Rutland County Republican Committee.
“We believe in small government,” Burke said later. “Government has gotten too invasive. We support individual freedom and the Constitution.”
For Dave Weeks, a former military man running for State Senate, “it’s all about the economy. Rutland has the same infrastructure as in 1926. We need to upgrade to bring in new businesses. We need better linkage to the interstate.”
The economy was a central theme among attendees. Peter Fagan, who is retiring as a State Representative from Rutland City, said, “We need to be more welcoming to businesses in Rutland City. We need to ease regulation, especially Act 250, and offer tax incentives in downtown Rutland.”
Fagan added, “part of our housing crisis is that landlords are too regulated and are pulling apartments off the market because they can’t get rid of bad tenants.”
“Democrats are spending us to death,” said Terry Williams, a candidate for State Senate. “I want to bring back fiscal responsibility.” Williams added, “Public safety and immigration control are also top of my list.”
Brian Collamore, who is running for re-election to the State Senate and was cheerfully helping to serve food at the event, had voiced similar concerns about public safety in an earlier conversation. “People avoid Burlington now,” Collamore said. “Crime has soared. We have to show law enforcement some appreciation in order to keep police officers on the force.”
State Rep Butch Shaw, whose district encompasses Pittsford and Proctor, stated that it’s important to support Republicans in Vermont because “one-party rule doesn’t always create good law.” He added, “Governor Scott is acting as a backstop to keep the [Democrat-controlled] Statehouse in check. We need a balance between the parties. I’d say the same thing in states controlled by Republicans.”
David Allaire, current Mayor of Rutland City, arrived later in the event and vowed to keep Democrats from making further inroads into Rutland, long a Republican bastion within blue Vermont. “The Left wants to take over Rutland like in Chittenden,” he announced to the gathering. “We can’t let that happen.”