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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Burlington GOP Council Candidate's Transphobic Tweets Resurface

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2021 at 10:17 PM

Christopher Aaron-Felker - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Christopher Aaron-Felker
At his campaign launch on Tuesday, Republican Christopher-Aaron Felker promised to rebuild city sidewalks, hire more police officers and find ways to reduce housing costs if he’s elected to the Burlington City Council in August.

The 40 people who gathered in Battery Park cheered when he vowed to help the city  “unite as a community” and “build a better Burlington together.”

But some city residents say Felker hasn’t been practicing what he’s now preaching. Shortly after Seven Days published a story about Felker’s candidacy last week, Twitter-users called him out for his transphobic social media posts — some of which were directed at the very people he now wants to represent.

He has since deleted his Twitter account, @UrOrwellianLife, and his Facebook profile, but Seven Days used the Internet Archive, a nonprofit that catalogues old versions of websites, to dig up Felker’s old tweets.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Joe Magee Wins Progressive Nomination for Ward 3 Special Election

Posted By on Sat, Jun 19, 2021 at 8:58 PM

  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Joe Magee
Joe Magee clinched the Vermont Progressive Party's nomination Saturday evening for the upcoming Ward 3 city council election with just one vote more than his closest competitor.

A total of 169 Progs cast ballots in the ranked-choice election, which lets voters rank candidates in order of preference. The lowest vote-getter is eliminated in each round until one candidate surpasses 50 percent.

Magee squeaked out 50.3 percent, or 75 votes, after four rounds, narrowly defeating Julie Macuga, who had 49.7 percent of votes, or 74 total, according to the party's official results.

"I'm very grateful to the candidates that ran in the caucus, and I'm looking forward to building a strong campaign for working families in Ward 3," Magee said. "It's just really great that we had such an impressive turnout in the caucus, and it speaks to the strength of the party in Ward 3 and definitely a strong start going into the special election."

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Burlington GOP Nominates Ward 3 Candidate in Last-Minute Caucus

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2021 at 9:29 PM

Christopher-Aaron Felker - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Christopher-Aaron Felker
Burlington Republicans have nominated Christopher-Aaron Felker to be their candidate in the upcoming Ward 3 city council election.

About a dozen members of the Burlington GOP unanimously endorsed Felker, the party's only candidate, during a meeting on Zoom on Friday evening.

The vote comes just three days before candidate petitions are due for the August 17 contest. The special election was called when former Progressive councilor Brian Pine stepped down last month to run the city's Community & Economic Development Office.

Felker said he plans to make the most of the quick, two-month race.

"We have a solid ground campaign, and it's about working and building a better Burlington together, and we can do that," Felker said. "We're going to unite our community."

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

One Prog Drops Out and Another Joins Burlington's Ward 3 Council Race

Posted By on Thu, Jun 17, 2021 at 9:49 PM

Ward 3 Progressive candidates - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Ward 3 Progressive candidates
There are still five Progressive candidates in the running for the vacant Ward 3 council seat in Burlington, but the lineup changed as of Thursday evening.

Elmwood Avenue resident July Sanders, who participated in last week's candidate forum, has dropped out of the race. Sanders told Seven Days that she has family commitments that require her to leave town often, and she realized it wasn't the best time to serve.

"Seeing just the great slate of candidates, I didn't feel that it was so bad that I step away," Sanders said.
Thursday evening, a new candidate had emerged in Chris Haessly, a College Street resident who volunteered himself for the seat at the party's nominating caucus.

"I wasn't really planning to be here today," Haessly told the small crowd gathered in the Sustainability Academy parking lot in the Old North End, noting that several residents encouraged him to run. "I've always considered myself a longtime, big P Progressive, so I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring."

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

With Dems' Support, Burlington Council Candidate Owen Milne Makes His Case

Posted By on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 at 8:51 PM

Owen Milne - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Owen Milne
The party's caucus is a few days away, but Burlington Democrats have effectively chosen Owen Milne as their candidate in the upcoming special Ward 3 City Council election.

Milne was the only candidate to file by the party's deadline last week and is expected to earn the party's official endorsement at its caucus on Friday, according to party chair Adam Roof.

Milne, the executive director of the Lake Champlain Sailing Center in Burlington, described his leadership style in a virtual Q&A event on Tuesday evening, saying that he would aim to be a true public servant.

"That's the job of city council. You answer the call, you listen intently, you ask the right questions, you understand the root of the problem, and then you roll up your sleeves and you act," Milne said. "Sometimes people consider that to be the part of the job that is less interesting or less glamorous, but ... that's the part of the job that I love the most."

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Five Candidates Vie for Prog Endorsement Ahead of Burlington Special Election

Posted By on Wed, Jun 9, 2021 at 11:28 PM

Ward 3 candidates - SCREENSHOT ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Screenshot ©️ Seven Days
  • Ward 3 candidates
At least five people will seek the Progressive nomination for Burlington's special Ward 3 city council election in August.

The declared contenders — Ryan Addario, Julie Macuga, Joe Magee, Owen Milne and July Sanders — appeared in a virtual candidate forum hosted by the Vermont Progressive Party on Wednesday night. All five said that if elected, they would support policies to transform public safety, increase the city’s affordable housing stock and uplift the voices of historically marginalized city residents.

The special election is needed after former Ward 3 councilor, Brian Pine, resigned his post last month to serve as the director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Office.
Progressives are eager to hold on to the ward — a Prog stronghold that covers a portion of the city's Old North End and downtown — to keep their plurality on the council. Before Pine left, the 12-member body was made up of six Progs, four Dems and two independents.

Wednesday’s forum comes about a week ahead of the party’s June 17 nominating caucus. Online voting will be open for two days, with a winner announced on June 19. Democrats will caucus June 18 and name a victor on June 20.

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Monday, June 7, 2021

Scott Signs Universal Mail-In Voting Bill, Urges Legislature to Expand It

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2021 at 5:57 PM

Voters will be able to fix mail-in ballot mistakes under a new bill - FILE: EVA SOLLBERGER ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Eva Sollberger ©️ Seven Days
  • Voters will be able to fix mail-in ballot mistakes under a new bill
Gov. Phil Scott on Monday signed legislation that allows mail-in voting for all future general elections, making permanent a pandemic-era rule designed to increase voter participation amid the public health crisis.

He also urged lawmakers to return to the topic next session and extend the changes to primaries and local elections, too.

“I’m signing this bill because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important," Scott said in a press release. "Having said that, we should not limit this expansion of access to general elections alone, which already have the highest voter turnout."

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Burlington Democrats Change Caucus Date to Meet Deadline

Posted By on Sun, Jun 6, 2021 at 10:48 PM

Adam Roof while on Burlington City Council - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Adam Roof while on Burlington City Council
Burlington Democrats have changed the date of their nominating caucus for a special city council election after originally scheduling it after a key deadline.

The change happened only after a Seven Days reporter informed the party of its mistake.

The Burlington Democratic Committee had planned to caucus on Tuesday, June 22 — a day after candidate petitions are due to the city clerk's office — for the August 17 Ward 3 special election. With a June 22 caucus, the Democrats' chosen candidate wouldn't have been able to run at all.

Seven Days notified party chair Adam Roof, a former city councilor, of the scheduling snafu on Friday afternoon. Roof said he thought the petition deadline was June 23 and has since rescheduled the caucus to June 18. Voting will be conducted online between June 18 and 20, Roof said.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Scott Vetoes Noncitizen Voting Proposals, Signs Bupe Bill

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2021 at 7:53 PM

  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur ©️ Seven Days
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday vetoed a pair of bills that would have granted local voting rights to noncitizen residents of Winooski and Montpelier, asserting that the topic needed "further consideration and debate."

Scott based his rejection on the argument that the two charter change proposals lacked clarity on who exactly would be able to vote and would lead to inconsistent election policies across the state. He urged the legislature to develop a statewide policy or "uniform template" for municipalities seeking to expand voting rights.

"I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned," Scott wrote in a letter to lawmakers Tuesday evening. "But I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner."

The decision will come as a blow to the two cities, where voters overwhelmingly supported the proposals. The vetoes will also likely fuel accusations of paternalism from those pushing for more municipal freedom.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Vermont Senate Approves Universal Mail-In Voting Bill

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 1:08 PM

Voters will be able to fix mail-in ballot mistakes under a new bill. - FILE: EVA SOLLBERGER ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Eva Sollberger ©️ Seven Days
  • Voters will be able to fix mail-in ballot mistakes under a new bill.
The Vermont Senate on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to making mail-in ballots a permanent fixture in the state.

The bill, S.15, would require town clerks to mail ballots to all active, registered voters ahead of general elections — the same way the state handled last year's presidential election. Voters could then mail their ballots, deliver them to the polls or vote in person.

The bill passed on a voice vote, with only three of 30 senators opposed: Sen. Brian Collamore (R-Rutland), Sen. Joshua Terenzini (R-Rutland) and Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans).

After passage, Gov. Phil Scott said at an unrelated press conference that he supports the bill, though he would prefer to see the mail-in provision expanded to cover all elections. Senators on Wednesday are expected to debate a proposal to do just that. They would then give final approval to the bill and send it to the House.

Presenting the bill on the floor, Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham) said mail-in voting increases participation without sacrificing security. She noted that 75 percent of more than 372,00 ballots cast last November were sent through the mail.

"Elections are the very cornerstone of our democracy," White said, "and the [basis] of the election is the individual's voice." 

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