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Monday, November 16, 2020

Pine Touts Experience in Formal Mayoral Campaign Announcement

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 2:44 PM

City Councilor Brian Pine - COURTESY OF BRIAN PINE
  • Courtesy of Brian Pine
  • City Councilor Brian Pine
City Councilor Brian Pine (P-Ward 3) formally announced his campaign for Burlington mayor in a virtual press conference on Monday, pledging to rely on his three decades of experience in local politics if elected to the top post at City Hall.

Pine kicked off the announcement with a pre-recorded clip at the Northgate Apartments in the New North End, the birthplace of his local political activism. In the video, Pine recounted his work in the 1980s to help residents purchase the low-income housing complex, saving it from a plan to revamp the units into market-rate condos.

Pine said his experience advocating for people “left at the margins” will inform how he’d govern as mayor.

“We need more than a custodial government for our city. We need bold action, grounded around a commitment to values,” he said, adding, “I want Burlington to once again be a city government that stands for positive change.”

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Burlington Candidates Seek Open Council Seat in North District

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 10:33 AM

Kerin Durfee (left) and Mark Barlow - COURTESY PHOTOS
  • Courtesy photos
  • Kerin Durfee (left) and Mark Barlow
Burlington City Councilor Franklin Paulino (D-North District) has said he won't run for reelection this March, prompting two New North End residents to declare their candidacies for the seat.

Kerin Durfee will seek the Democratic nomination, while Mark Barlow is running as an independent. Kienan Christianson, who lost the North District race to Paulino in 2018, said he's "strongly considering" another run. He said he'll formally announce his decision in the coming weeks.

Spots in all four city council district seats, which represent two wards apiece, are up for election in March. Paulino, a Democrat and one-term councilor, announced on Twitter in September that he would not seek reelection.

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Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Will Run for Reelection

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 9:55 AM

Mayor Miro Weinberger - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is running for reelection.

The three-term Democrat announced his decision Tuesday morning in an email to supporters, writing that "serving as mayor has been the honor of my life."

Voters will cast ballots on Town Meeting Day in March.

"Together, we have accomplished so much over the last nine years," his statement says. "I will always be deeply grateful for your support and belief in my ability to work with our community to move Burlington forward."

Weinberger's announcement came hours after the Progressive Party put forward city councilors Max Tracy (Ward 2) and Brian Pine (Ward 3) as candidates. "Burlington is ready for new leadership and a new direction from City Hall," Progressive Party director Josh Wronski said in a press release Monday evening.

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Burlington Democrats, State Party Admit to Campaign Finance Violations

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 4:03 PM

Burlington Democratic Party chair Sam Donnelly - FILE: LUKE AWTRY
  • File: Luke Awtry
  • Burlington Democratic Party chair Sam Donnelly
The Vermont Democratic Party and the Burlington Democratic Committee will pay the state a $2,750 fine for violating campaign finance laws related to Burlington City Council elections last March.

The political parties were required to report campaign spending for the Town Meeting Day races on February 2 and 22 and March 17, but neither organization did, according to a settlement the Vermont Attorney General's Office announced late last week.

The Vermont Progressive Party filed a complaint with the AG's office in April after unsuccessfully trying to resolve the issue directly with the city committee, according to Progressive Party executive director Josh Wronski.

Progs took notice when the state Democrats announced they had hired a full-time staffer to boost the party's chances in the local elections — an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful — and started circulating a variety of campaign mailers that couldn't be traced back to campaign reports.

"This wasn't a political stunt," Wronski said, adding, "We've maintained the whole time that this is really about transparency. People have the right to know who's funding the flyers and the canvassers and the phone-bankers that are coming into their neighborhood."

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Friday, November 29, 2019

Burlington Progs Want to Bring Back Ranked-Choice Voting

Posted By on Fri, Nov 29, 2019 at 5:37 PM

A voter in Burlington's Old North End. - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • FILE: Alicia Freese
  • A voter in Burlington's Old North End.
Updated on December 2, 2019.

A group of Progressive Burlington city councilors wants to resurrect ranked-choice voting, a controversial election method that Queen City voters repealed nearly a decade ago.

Councilors Jack Hanson, Brian Pine and Max Tracy will introduce a resolution on Monday that seeks to place a question on the March 2020 ballot to reinstate the election system. If approved, the topic will go to the council’s Charter Change Committee for consideration.

Councilors Perri Freeman (P-Central District) and Sharon Bushor (I-Ward 1) have also signed on as cosponsors of the measure.

Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff, allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If none wins a majority, the last-place finisher is eliminated. Votes for that candidate are then assigned to voters’ second choice until one candidate gets a 50 percent majority.

Under the current system, a candidate can earn just 40 percent of the vote to win an election for mayor, city council or school board. The system puts independent and non-major party candidates at a disadvantage, the resolution says, and forces voters to choose the candidate who is most likely to win instead of who they favor most.

"In Burlington, there’s alway been a long tradition of being ... a multiparty city," said Pine, a Ward 3 prog. "This is a well-tested way to ensure that you can have a more pluralistic political system."

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Vermont Dems Uncover More Alleged Embezzlement, File Police Report

Posted By on Sun, Aug 18, 2019 at 10:05 PM

Brandon Batham - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Brandon Batham
In a statement to the press earlier this month, Vermont Democratic Party chair Terje Anderson accused a former employee of embezzling "the relatively modest amount" of $2,938.

On Sunday, the party disclosed that the sum wasn't so modest after all.

In a new statement, the Democrats alleged that former director of party operations Brandon Batham embezzled roughly $18,500 this year. The party also disclosed for the first time that it had filed a criminal complaint against Batham with the Montpelier Police Department.

Batham, who resigned under pressure on July 17, has not publicly addressed the allegations. The former Barre city councilor did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

In an email to party supporters, Anderson and other top officials called it a "difficult and painful time" for Vermont Democrats. "We will be doing everything possible to move beyond this very discouraging set of circumstances and to regain or retain your trust," Anderson, party vice chair Tess Taylor and treasurer Billi Gosh wrote in the email Sunday. "We will do so in a spirit of humility and honesty."

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vermont Senate to Vote on Corporate Contribution Ban

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 7:41 PM

Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) - FILE: NANCY REMSEN
  • File: Nancy Remsen
  • Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington)
Senate lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday that would ban campaign contributions made directly by corporations to political candidates or parties. Under the legislation, corporate money could still find its way into Vermont’s elections, but it would have to move through a political action committee first.

The Senate Government Operations Committee approved the bill in a 4–1 vote Tuesday afternoon, with only Sen. Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) opposing it. The full Senate is likely to take it up later this week.

The legislation would allow individuals, PACs and political parties to contribute directly to candidates and parties, but it would bar private companies, nonprofit organizations, trade associations and labor unions from doing so. Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) sponsored the legislation in an effort to limit corporate influence in politics and increase transparency in campaign financing.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Scott Taps Colston to Fill Winooski Seat in Vermont House

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 7:04 PM

Hal Colston - COURTESY OF HAL COLSTON
  • Courtesy of Hal Colston
  • Hal Colston
It's decided.

Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that he will appoint Winooski City Councilor Hal Colston to fill the vacant Chittenden 6-7 House seat.

Colston will be sworn in Wednesday to represent all of Winooski and a small portion of Burlington. He'll replace Clem Bissonnette, who announced his resignation last month.

"Hal has dedicated much of his life to public service and improving the lives of people in his community,” Scott said in a statement. “As a city councilor and executive director of SerVermont, Hal has made it his mission to advocate for equity and justice for all, and I look forward to working with him in the Legislature.”

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Joe Biden Talks Family — and a Bit of Politics — in Visit to Burlington

Posted By on Sun, Dec 9, 2018 at 7:26 PM

Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden
For those expecting Joe Biden to deliver a political stump speech — or a taste of his future plans — during a visit to Burlington on Sunday, he failed to deliver.

The former vice president and senator avoided all but an ambiguous hint when it came to discussing a possible 2020 presidential run, and he steered clear of any direct attacks on President Donald Trump — even as he came to the home turf of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a possible 2020 competitor.

Instead the 76-year-old appeared intent on offering a more personal message. For those who are grieving or bereaved, he told a packed house at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, "There's a reason for hope, believe it or not."

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Winooski Voters Approve Main Street Revitalization Project

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 8:28 PM

A rendering of the proposed reconstruction of Winooski's Main Street - COURTESY VHB CONSULTING
  • Courtesy VHB consulting
  • A rendering of the proposed reconstruction of Winooski's Main Street
Onion City voters approved a $23 million bond for a major facelift of the city's Main Street on Tuesday by a healthy margin of 311 to 185.

The vote will allow the Winooski City Council to explore funding sources, including state and federal grants, as well as a 1 percent local options tax on rooms, meals and alcohol. An increase in municipal taxes and water rates could also fund the work.

After the votes were counted Tuesday evening, Mayor Seth Leonard took to Twitter.

Other public officials also expressed gratitude to voters.

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