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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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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Weinberger Raises $86K, Outpacing Tracy in Burlington Mayoral Race

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2021 at 11:46 PM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Updated on February 1, 2021.

The first campaign finance filings of the Burlington mayoral race show that Democratic incumbent Miro Weinberger has raised about twice as much cash as his Progressive challenger, City Council President Max Tracy.

Weinberger raked in $85,997 from 298 donors, surpassing Tracy's $42,441 fundraising haul. Tracy, however, pulled in 85 more donations than the sitting mayor; the vast majority who gave to Tracy's campaign donated $100 or less.

Fellow mayoral hopeful Ali Dieng, an independent city councilor representing Ward 7, raised $7,721 from 59 donors. The four other independents in the race — Haik Bedrosian, Will Emmons, Kevin McGrath and Patrick White — did not file disclosures.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Scott Signs Bill Enabling Mail-In Voting for Town Meeting Day

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 1:00 PM

Vermont voters at a polling location last year - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Vermont voters at a polling location last year
A bill that Gov. Phil Scott signed into law on Tuesday will enable Vermont municipalities and school districts to conduct mail-in Town Meeting Day votes this year. It also allows for votes to be delayed until later in the spring, when it might be safer to hold some form of in-person meetings.

"This means they can, if they choose, mail ballots to all registered voters in place of more traditional town meetings, or the typical in-person elections used by many cities and towns," Scott said at a press briefing.

The bill, H.48, seeks to keep residents safe during the coronavirus pandemic by offering flexibility ahead of Vermont's traditional March voting day. It will empower municipalities and school districts to send out ballots in a system similar to the one used during Vermont's first-ever mail-in election in November.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Vermont Lawmakers Expect to Enable Mail-In Voting for Town Meeting Day

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 5:06 PM

A poll worker behind a sheet of plastic in August - FILE: JAMES BUCK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: James Buck ©️ Seven Days
  • A poll worker behind a sheet of plastic in August
Vermont lawmakers expect to empower municipalities and school districts to hold mail-in Town Meeting Day elections in light of the coronavirus pandemic's continued surge.

A bill would offer flexibility ahead of Vermont's traditional March voting day, which packs residents in some towns into gymnasiums, auditoriums, and meeting houses to cast ballots on budgets and other local matters.

"Many eligible voters on Town Meeting Day will not be able or willing to vote in person or attend a traditional floor meeting," Vermont Administration Secretary Susanne Young and Secretary of State Jim Condos wrote in a joint memo last month asking for money to offset costs for municipalities. "We must ensure voters can safely and securely participate in all elections, not just the November election."

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Sunday, December 6, 2020

At Caucus, Burlington Democrats Offer Counter to Progressives' 'Extreme Ideologies'

Posted By on Sun, Dec 6, 2020 at 7:44 PM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
In a caucus stump speech on Sunday, Democratic Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger railed against city Progressives for their "rigid" ideology, saying that he, in contrast, would continue to lead by using data and expertise if reelected in March.

Weinberger, who is running for a fourth term, was uncontested in seeking his party’s nomination at Sunday's caucus. According to party results, 425 Burlingtonians cast votes in the virtual affair, which allowed for email and in-person voting between 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

The sitting mayor will defend his seat against Max Tracy, the city council president who earned the Progressive endorsement on Thursday. Also running are at least two declared independent candidates: Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7) and South End resident Patrick White.

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tracy Wins Progressive Nomination for Burlington Mayor's Race

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 11:22 PM

City Council President Max Tracy - COURTESY OF MATT BINGINOT
  • Courtesy of Matt Binginot
  • City Council President Max Tracy
Burlington Progressives chose City Council President Max Tracy (Ward 2) as their candidate for mayor in the March 2 election.

Tracy earned approximately 787 votes, or about 55 percent, compared to 631 votes — about 45 percent — for fellow Councilor Brian Pine (Ward 3), according to party caucus results released Thursday. A record-breaking 1,420 people cast ballots online and in person as this year's event went virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic. This is such a big win and such a big win for our party," Tracy said after the results were released. "I am so impressed with the turnout and the excitement that we have going into the general election."

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Pine and Tracy Make Their Pitches at Progressive Party Caucus

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 10:35 PM

Progressives Max Tracy (left) and Brian Pine - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Progressives Max Tracy (left) and Brian Pine
Updated on December 2, 2020.

Progressive Burlington City Councilors Brian Pine (Ward 3) and Max Tracy (Ward 2) each made their case to become the next mayor of Burlington during a caucus Tuesday night that otherwise featured few contested races.

Nearly 1,400 people registered for the party’s first-ever virtual caucus, which was streamed on Zoom and the party’s Facebook page. Both Pine and Tracy promised that if elected, they’d bring change to Burlington after nearly nine years of leadership under Mayor Miro Weinberger. The three-term Democrat is running for reelection and is expected to win his party’s nomination at its caucus on Sunday.

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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

  • 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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