The caucus system for choosing candidates for Town of Rutland offices is history.
Rutland electors voted 23-1 in the town’s annual meeting Tuesday, Aug. 25, in favor of switching to a nomination paper system for selecting candidates to run for office.
Starting with the 2021 election, candidates for town offices will need to get at least 20 signatures to be on the ballot. Nomination papers for the April 2021 election can start to be circulated Dec. 1, 2020.
Rutland Town Chair Peter Loughrin was the lone dissenting vote.
“I considered my vote to be for retaining the caucus method,” Loughrin told the Observer. “I simply prefered retaining the current caucus system and voted accordingly.”
He declined to elaborate on why he voted for retaining the caucus system.
The vote was on the agenda, though it wasn’t necessary to do so because electors (voting-eligible residents) can bring up any topic at the annual meeting. Sup. Deana Zentner had encouraged people to vote for the change, saying residents she’d spoken with dislike how people who have no intention of running for an election can be nominated.
“The vote was not surprising considering many Rutland residents had previously presented a formal petition to the board to make this change,” she said. “Rutland’s Town meeting profited from a significant number of engaged residents who had this statutory in-person opportunity to discuss updating from an old, less democratic system. Only interested, sincere candidates will be involved in the voting process.”
Zentner said obtaining signatures on nomination papers is a valuable way to meet residents and learn of their interests and concerns.
“This interaction benefits all involved,” she said.
Town Clerk Dawn George noted that if more than two candidates file papers for the same town post, Rutland would be required to host a primary in February.
There are six town offices up for election in 2021, including Loughrin as town chairman, supervisor Dave Grueneberg’s seat, George’s position, treasurer Kim Sime and two town constables, Nels Wethal and Shawn Hillestad.