Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Town Meeting
VPR News is aggregating Town Meeting reports on social media: follow the timeline on Storify. Rundown of full coverage here.Share your updates and photos from your Town Meeting with the #TMDVT hashtag.News tips? Email Follow #VPRNews and our reporters on Twitter.

Hollar In, School Budget Down In Closely Watched Montpelier Votes

One of the most contentious municipal races of the year ended Tuesday night when Montpelier Mayor John Hollar defeated challenger Gwen Hallsmith. And the incumbent says the result represents a vote of confidence in city leadership.­­­­­

It was a bitter battle, waged between two candidates whose mutual disdain for each other became center stage in a very public political grudge match.

But with the fight of his young political life behind him, Montpelier Mayor John Hollar says he’s eager to get on with the business of governing the Capital City. Hollar won the race, 1,525 to 782.

“I’m most encouraged by the fact that Montpelier voters seem to have responded to the positive message, tried to be consistent about what we’ve done, about the vision for Montpelier, and that’s what seemed to resonate,” Hollar said.

Challenger Gwen Hallsmith derided Hollar as a Tea Party mayor intent on slashing city budgets and cutting municipal services. But Hollar says his decisive victory shows that Montpelier can exercise fiscal restraint even as it pursues progressive policies.

“In my view, this is support for the direction that the city of Montpelier has been taking – you know, keep an eye on our tax rate, invest in our infrastructure and make progress on the many projects that we have underway,” Hollar said. 

Hollar will be joined on the City Council by like-minded colleagues in Thierry Guerlain and Justin Turcotte. Both candidates had endorsed Hollar, and each made fiscal responsibility a centerpiece of his campaign.

Another pro-Hollar councilor was defeated, however, when incumbent Andy Hooper lost to challenger Donna Bate.

While the municipal budget garnered overwhelming support Tuesday, the $17.9 million school budget went down to a surprising defeat.

The budget would have increased spending by just more than 2 percent, but would have resulted in a hike in the tax rate of about 13 percent.

Sue Aldrich is chairwoman of the Montpelier School Board. She said the loss is in part due to organized efforts to galvanize opposition. The budget went down, 1,130 to 1,211.

“There’s a group in Montpelier that has been wanting to, you know, have school budgets fail for a long time because they think our budgets are excessive, and they were extremely well organized this year,” Aldrich said.

That group didn’t have to work too hard to win over residents like Mike Doyle, a Montpelier native who says city budgets have begun to price him out of his hometown.

“Basically I believe that it’s getting more and more difficult to afford to live in Montpelier, maybe more and more difficult to afford to live in the entire state, and I tend to vote against anything that increases the cost of living,” Doyle said.

In the contested race for parks commissioner, Bryan Pfeiffer defeated Bill Johnson.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Latest Stories