Home News and Features Hemmerick, Morey Vie for Barre City Mayor

Hemmerick, Morey Vie for Barre City Mayor

Two people with city council experience are vying for the role of mayor in Barre City. Current Ward 1 City Councilor Jake Hemmerick is running against former Ward 3 City Councilor Rich Morey. Hemmerick and Morey will be filling a seat vacated by outgoing mayor Lucas Herring, who has served two 2-year terms since his election in 2018.

With a Town Meeting Day vote on the horizon, The Bridge reached out to the candidates, asking each the same interview questions. Here are their answers. 

Jake Hemmerick

Jake Hemmerick. Courtesy photo.
Hemmerick is finishing up a two-year term as Barre City’s Ward 1 City Councilor, elected, he said, with 80% of the Ward 1 vote in 2020 against an incumbent. Hemerick currently works as a planner in Vermont’s Division of Planning and Revitalization and is a “proud union member.”

Why are you running for mayor?

JH: I believe it’s Barre City’s turn, and I believe we can take that turn together by putting people first! If residents are given a real say, they know what needs fixing, and they know this election is a big one. It’s the year we’ll transition to a new city manager and determine how one-time stimulus funding is used for a lasting impact on issues like housing affordability, infrastructure maintenance, and sustainability. I have the know-how to tackle the huge challenges confronting our city and the courage to push for better politics in Barre. It’s a new day in Barre.

How will you responsibly contain the budget?

JH: Some people don’t want to talk about the serious challenges the city faces, but you don’t need to be an economist to notice that it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Barre has a choice: keep doing the same things or try something new. Folks will spot me wearing a bright green beanie on the campaign trail as a reminder that city hall must make the most of every dollar for responsive services — small and large. They know that I will not rest until the city has adopted a comprehensive capital budget and program that prioritizes their needs, supports grand list growth, stewards enterprise revenues, and delivers cost-effective services. That’s what I’m about.

What is your number one priority issue that you believe you can address in the role of mayor of Barre City?

JH: Barre’s politics have been exclusionary for far too long. Now is the moment to pivot. I believe that thoughtful process can help unite people behind broadly shared priorities and welcome new voices to the table — including Barre City’s youths. As mayor, I’ll propose that the city hold an annual congress of neighborhood groups in the auditorium. We can do this prior to budget preparation each year to share grassroots priorities and act on the things that matter to the people who make their lives and livelihoods in this lovable little city. You can learn more about my vision for the city on Instagram or Facebook under ‘barrevtjake’.

How do you plan to prepare Barre for recreational marijuana sales?

JH: If you’ve followed me on the city council, you know that I look through the details and ask the tough questions. I support moving the drug trade out of neighborhoods and into a safely regulated marketplace, but I am disappointed that the legislature and Cannabis Control Board did not provide municipalities adequate financial resources to support a transition. To be proactive, council must work with the Planning Commission and community on ordinance changes right for Barre’s voters. And, as we turn the corner out of the pandemic, it’s also a great time to consider updates to allow other new businesses and homes.

Rich Morey

Rich Morey. Courtesy photo.
Former Ward 3 City Councilor Rich Morey describes his experience on his Facebook page: “… I served for three years as a City Councilor, two years as the President of The Barre Partnership, and am currently the Chair of the City Manager Search Task Force.” Morey, a native of central Vermont, works in Barre City, and has rented a home there for 11 years. 

Why are you running for mayor?

RM: I am running for mayor because I want to be the person to lead Barre City. We have funds coming available to us from the federal government and these next few years will really shape Barre City for many years to come. I believe that being an eighth-generation Vermonter, an eleven-year resident of Barre City, a past council member, the president of The Barre Partnership and my close ties to working in the downtown that I have a good finger on the pulse of what residents are feeling and what they are looking for.

How will you responsibly contain the budget?

RM: The budget is a tricky item to try and contain with no easy answer. We need to look at the costs of running the city and be willing to have tough discussions on the possibility of cutting back services offered if we’re not going to raise our tax rate. Infrastructure investments and capital needs will cost more upfront, but over time will pay dividends and lower maintenance costs. This is where smart investments of our city funds will pay off; focused and smart spending is the way we contain our budget.

What is your number one priority issue that you believe you can address in the role of mayor of Barre City?

RM: The number one priority for me is infrastructure investments and making the improvements that are needed. Looking at the city’s Capital Plan, there is a lot that needs to be done. The Department of Public Works Director and City Manager have laid everything out for us, now it is up to us to get the work done. My philosophy is less talk, more work!

How do you plan to prepare Barre for recreational marijuana sales?

RM: Recreational marijuana sales are coming and we know it. While I may feel it is something Barre City should capitalize on for revenue, that may not be the will of the city. Setting up public forums, creating a task force, and studying the impacts it may have will give us more information on what residents think as well as having an open dialogue with city leaders. 

According to the Barre City website, “Polls are open (March 1) at the Barre Civic Center Auditorium from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for in-person voting, and to drop off absentee ballots. Contact or stop by the clerk’s office in city hall to request an early absentee ballot. The office can be reached at (802) 476-0242 or email to cdawes@barrecity.org.” 

To see a sample ballot, information about absentee ballots, and more, go to barrecity.org/annual-town-meeting-election.html.