Seth Leonard, a Winooski resident for four years, was elected the city's mayor today, beating defense attorney Bill Norful 627-408, according to preliminary results.
Leonard, 32, campaigned as a uniter who could bring together Winooski's diverse groups — young professionals, refugees and families who have called the Onion City home for generations. An Indiana native, Leonard moved to Winooski in 2011. He served on the city council for the past two years, and said he helped to stabilize the city's finances while in office.
Leonard said he had spent more than 12 hours outside today at the polls today greeting voters.
“I think people want to look toward the future in Winooski,” Leonard said in an interview. “People are excited about engaging in a planning process.”
His first goal, Leonard said, will be getting two new city councilors — Robert Millar and Nicole Mace — up to speed, and “addressing financial pressures.”
“I’m disappointed, but either one of us would be a great mayor for Winooski,” Norful, 61, said in an interview. “There was a lot of intelligent discussion and debate. We had two good choices. [Seth] is a very good person.”
During his campaign, Norful said he would prioritize revamping the park in the city's downtown traffic circle and would find ways to increase home ownership in the rental-dominated city. A Winooski native, Norful served as mayor from 1991 to 1999.
Norful said turnout today was lower than he expected: He had assumed around 1,300 voters would show up.
It was the seventh time Norful has stood for election. He has won four times, and lost three times.
“You never know with elections,” Norful said. “I’ve won some I thought I would lose, and lost some I thought I would win.”
The mayor is the city's de facto spokesperson and head of the five-member Winooski City Council, empowered to set the agenda for council meetings and to serve as the council's liaison to the city manager. The position pays $1,700 annually.