Vermont Mayor Blames Defeat on His Support of Refugees

By: - March 9, 2017 12:00 am

Mayor Christopher Louras with a sign promoting the volunteer group that was preparing to welcome Syrian refugees to the Vermont city. Louras blamed his re-election defeat on opposition to his stand on refugees.

© The Pew Charitable Trusts

Christopher Louras, the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, made a bit of a stir last year when he asked the state refugee resettlement agency to send 100 refugees to his small city to help fill vacant housing and entry-level jobs and keep the economy moving.

Other small towns across the country also sought out the new arrivals as a way to counter shrinking and aging populations, even as some governors and members of Congress called for a halt to the flow of refugees from Syria.

On Tuesday, Louras lost his bid for a sixth two-year term, losing in a four-way race to David Allaire, a city councilor. And it was his support for refugee resettlement that cost him the race, Louras told The Associated Press.

“Though I wanted to think this was not a referendum on refugee resettlement, I continue to believe, as I’ve articulated, Rutland is a microcosm of the national conversation on immigration and refugees, and ultimately it was not an election on the issues but an election based on emotions,” he said.

Louras had initiated a plan to resettle 100 Syrians to the city of about 16,000, saying they would provide needed workers and diversity to the aging, shrinking city at the foot of the Green Mountains.

Two families were resettled in Rutland before the refugee program was suspended this week by President Donald Trump. 

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.