MONTPELIER, Vt. — Seven of Vermont's eight city mayors — including one Republican and one former Republican who's now an independent — on Monday endorsed the re-election of Vermont Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Shumlin got support from the mayors of Barre, St. Albans, Newport, Winooski, Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland.
The exception was Michael Daniels, Vergennes' part-time mayor, who said in a phone interview he is a state employee and did not feel comfortable endorsing either Shumlin or his Republican opponent, state Sen. Randy Brock.
Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon endorsed Shumlin's opponent, then Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, in 2010, including making a recorded telephone message, or "robocall," disparaging Shumlin. But he said he warmed to Shumlin shortly after the Democrat took office.
Shumlin asked to meet with Lauzon and had lunch at the mayor's house. "He said, 'I want to improve the life of the average Vermonter and I'm here to work with you. So if you need anything, let me know," Lauzon recalled.
Lauzon said he put that promise to the test, asking for the governor's help after flooding in May 2011 hit many downtown Barre businesses.
Shumlin's administration set up a special emergency loan program to help the businesses get back on their feet, the mayor said.
"Many of our shopkeepers took advantage of that," Lauzon said. "We were turning those loan applications and turning those funds around in 48 hours. That was pretty impressive."
Among those joining Lauzon in supporting Shumlin for a second two-year term was Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras, a former Republican state lawmaker who said he is now an independent.
Louras praised the governor for his response to Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, and for promoting business development in the city.
Shumlin said that "when it comes to job creation and quality of life, we all know that our downtowns and our cities (are) where the rubber hits the road." He said of the mayors, "They're doing the hard work. They're making a difference, and I'm delighted to be their partner."