A mayoral election in Vermont that became a referendum on refugee resettlement ended Tuesday with the loss of the incumbent who pushed for up to 100 refugees to move into the small city.
Incumbent Rutland mayor Chris Louras lost to city alderman David Allaire by a little over 700 votes, The Rutland Herald reports. Louras reached out to refugee resettlement officials in late 2015 to propose resettling 100 Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the city of 17,000, all without consulting the Board of Aldermen.
“Rutland has been addressing our issues, and, having turned our community around, this is the next logical step — to embrace New Americans and enjoy the economic and cultural benefits that level of diversity will provide,” Louras told local publication Seven Days last June. “There’s not a successful, vibrant and growing community in the country that hasn’t embraced New Americans.”
His opponent, Allaire, maintains he’s not anti-refugee, and that his main qualm with Louras’ proposal is that he went behind the back of the local government. “It seems to be all cloak and dagger, behind the scenes,” the newly elected mayor told Seven Days.
The election largely came to be seen as a referendum on refugees, as local residents flooded town halls to support both sides, with opponents of the resettlement questioning whether the resettled refugees would bring disease and Sharia law.