NEWPORT CITY – Four city residents are facing off at a chance to win one of two seats on the Newport City Council. Incumbents John Wilson and Tim de la Bruere are going up against Mark Guyette and Peter Holden.
Tim de la Bruere
De la Bruere is seeking his third two-year seat. He likes the council because there are no political lines. Instead, it is five “everyday people” in the city who come together to deal with municipal issues.
De la Bruere served on the North Country Union High School Board for about a year and a half and was a member of the Vermont School Board Association. He served on the Vermont Commission for Native American Affairs, under the Gov. Jim Douglas administration, for five and a half years.
The accomplishment de la Bruere is most proud of is following the wishes of city voters and not installing water meters in all single-family homes in Newport City.
De la Bruere wants to make sure the upcoming paving projects don’t bottleneck traffic. The city has an opportunity to get a bridge and nice road structures. However, the city can learn from mistakes made in other communities and figure out how to make “the best go” while ensuring businesses prosper.
While serving on the North Country Board, de la Bruere learned the importance of reviewing policies. “Policies aren’t something that are meant to be written and locked away for 15 years,” he said.
De la Bruere said local businesses are struggling, but said that is an issue in every community. He said he supports expanding the city’s industrial sector and the council also needs to support businesses that are not on Main Street.
“It’s exciting to see where we can be in the next ten years,” de la Bruere said of the city as a whole.
Wilson has been a council member for 10 and a half years. He joined the council when Art Aiken resigned and moved out of the area.
Initially Wilson didn’t think he’d serve the city for over a decade. He thought it would be a good way to give back to the community.
“It’s been an honor to serve the city and represent the voters in the city for over 10 years,” said Wilson. “I hope I represented everyone to their satisfaction during this time and hope the voters will give me two more years.”
Some of the things Wilson is most proud of are the upgrades to the sewer plant, the new water treatment facility, upgraded equipment on the fire department and upgraded infrastructure along Route 105. Wilson is also proud he went along with city voters’ decision and voted no to water meters.
Wilson is proud he only missed two council meetings during his tenure - one was for a funeral and the second was due to illness. Three years ago, Wilson’s fellow council members named him as council president. As part of the role, it’s up to Wilson to fill in when the mayor is not available.
Wilson said he’s been fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money. Sometimes that means he has to be tight when it comes time to spend taxpayer money.
Wilson thinks there will be a testy period during the next couple of years. The state will shut down and replace the Long Bridge. It will also pave Route 5. Wilson believes the projects will be good, but motorists will be inconvenienced.
The arrival of technical employers, a downtown hotel and the Tasting Center will also be good for the city, Wilson said. He added that in the next 10 years he really believes Newport will have a more vibrant downtown and a bustling waterfront.
Wilson said he is not afraid to speak up for what he thinks is right.
Holden, who has been in Newport City his entire life, formally served on the Newport City School Board. He also served on the Newport City Fire Department for 15 years.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in Newport,” he said. “Some good, some bad.”
Holden said he thinks he can give voters a different opinion in the way the council does things. However, he said, he’s not saying the council is dong a bad job. “I just think it’s time for a change,” said Holden. He said he has not done anything for the city for about five years. “Now it’s time to give back.”
For the past couple of years, the city has been missing a positive attitude, said Holden, who, as part of his job at Memphremagog Rentals, works with many municipalities in the region. He said everyone there seems to be kind. He stressed he wasn’t saying Newport isn’t kind and he said he loves Newport, but he feels attitudes need to be better.
“People aren’t always wrong,” said Holden. “It’s time for the council to listen to everybody. They need to be heard.”
Holden said people do not need to be hesitant to approach the council with him on it.
Newport needs development, said Holden, who added that, years ago, downtown stores would be open until 9 p.m. on Friday night. Back then, he said, there were numerous stores in the area.
“We need to grow,” he said. “The city has to work with anyone who can bring something in and make it work. It’s happening (now), but everyone needs to communicate better.”
However, Holden feels Newport needs more than retail, since many people shop online.
Guyette is running because he wants to bring a different prospective and views to the council. There are some things that can be changed for the better. This includes notifying people and getting more people involved in making decisions, he said.
“With projects coming up, I think we’re going to have a lot of issues in the city this year,” he said. Guyette was particularly speaking about replacing the Long Bridge and repaving Route 5. “There will be traffic issues.”
There is not much anyone can do but get through it, Guyette said.
Guyette, a longtime Newport businessman, has gotten involved with a lot of projects such as sponsoring local sporting teams.
Guyette would like to see Newport get cleaned up so more people would want to come to the city.
“We have this waterfront, we just need to capitalize on it,” he said. “We need more business. That is one of the things we need.”
The city needs to revitalize Main Street, which may mean tearing down some of the older buildings, Guyette said.
“It’s time to bring ourselves into the next century,” Guyette said. “I want to bring us into the next era.”
Guyette is also concerned there is not enough affordable housing.