William T. Doyle

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William T. Doyle
Member of the Vermont Senate
from the Washington district
In office
Preceded by Daniel B. Ruggles
Succeeded by Francis Brooks
Personal details
Born (1926-05-08) May 8, 1926 (age 91)
New York City, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Olene Ottaway
Residence Montpelier, Vermont
Alma mater Princeton University
Columbia University
Profession Professor of Government and History

William T. "Bill" Doyle, (born May 8, 1926) was a Republican member of the Vermont Senate. As a senator from the Washington Vermont Senate District from 1969 to 2017, he is the longest-ever serving member of Vermont's state legislature.

Early life[edit]

Doyle was born in New York City on May 8, 1926. He was raised in New Jersey, and his father Edward T. Doyle (d. 1984) was the mayor of Sea Girt. Bill Doyle was educated at Spring Lake Grammar School, Manasquan High School, and the Lawrenceville School. He graduated from Princeton University in 1949, and received his master's (1955) and doctoral degrees (1960) from Columbia University.

Doyle became a professor of political science at Johnson State College in 1958, and continues to teach there. He became a resident of Montpelier, Vermont in 1959, and has resided there ever since.

Political career[edit]

In the 1960s, Doyle became active in local politics and government, serving on the Montpelier School Board from 1964 to 1968, and as chairman from 1967 to 1968. He served on the Union #32 District High School Board from 1967 to 1968, and on the advisory committee of the Barre Area Vocational High School from 1965 to 1968. Doyle was also active in the Republican Party, including service on the Montpelier and Washington County committees, a delegate to numerous state conventions, and a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1976 and 1988.

Doyle was first elected to the Vermont Senate in 1968, after running unsuccessfully in 1964 and 1966. In 1966, Republican Daniel B. Ruggles defeated Doyle by two votes for third place in the three-person district; in 1968, Ruggles ran unsuccessfully for the nomination for lieutenant governor, and Doyle was elected as his successor.

Doyle was reelected every two years until 2014, and served continuously from 1969 to 2017. The Washington County Senate District elects three members of the Senate at-large, and Doyle was routinely the highest finisher among the district's candidates. He served as the Senate Minority Leader from 2010 to 2013.

The Vermont Political Tradition[edit]

In 1984, Doyle published The Vermont Political Tradition, a survey of the state's political development from its formation as an independent republic in 1777 to the election of Madeline Kunin as Vermont Governor. He has continued to publish updates periodically since the book's first edition.

Doyle poll[edit]

Since 1969, he has conducted the annual "Doyle Poll" of town meeting participants across Vermont. Attracting thousands of responses annually, the Doyle poll asks respondents for their views on about a dozen issues of the day. Despite the poll's unscientific nature, the results are widely reported on in Vermont media and considered a barometer of current public opinion.

2016 defeat for reelection[edit]

In 2016, Doyle was defeated for reelection; he finished fourth among the candidates running at-large in his State Senate district; incumbents Ann Cummings (Democrat) and Anthony Pollina (Progressive/Democrat) were reelected, and the third-place finisher was Democrat Francis K. Brooks, former Majority Leader of the Vermont House of Representatives and former Sergeant-at-Arms of the Vermont State House.

Doyle trailed Brooks by approximately 200 votes; after initially indicating that he would request a recount, Doyle ultimately decided against doing so.

On January 10, 2017, Doyle was honored in the Vermont Senate chamber, including resolutions of appreciation, and current and former senators recounting stories of their experiences working with him. In addition, Governor Phil Scott, one of Doyle's former colleagues from the Washington County district, signed a proclamation designating Vermont's 2017 local election and town meeting date, March 7, as "Bill Doyle Town Meeting Day".


Doyle is married to the former Olene May Ottaway. They are the parents of two sons and one daughter.

External links[edit]