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Town Meeting Day

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Magic Number: How Weinberger Won the Mayor's Race by 129 Votes

Posted By and on Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 2:10 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger at the Edmunds School - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger at the Edmunds School
Updated at 5:55 p.m.

Forty years ago this week, an ideological politician named Bernie Sanders shocked Burlington by knocking off Democrat Gordon Paquette in a three-way mayoral race.

The margin? After a recount, just 10 votes.

Fast-forward to Tuesday. Ideological politician Max Tracy, a Progressive city council president, barely missed out on an upset of his own.

The margin? Just 129 votes, a mere percentage point separating him from incumbent Democrat Miro Weinberger. It was the tightest mayoral election in the city since Sanders won that storied campaign in March 1981. No recount has been announced this time around.

For Weinberger, it was also his worst showing of four campaigns. Put it this way: 57 percent of voters picked someone else.

Luckily for the incumbent, there were plenty of someone elses to go around. City Councilor Ali Dieng ran as an independent and picked up 13 percent of the vote. Four other lesser-known candidates, plus write-ins, combined to take about 2 percent of the vote. That left Tracy just 42 percent.

Some Tracy supporters might complain about the spoiler effect of those less-competitive candidates. But city data show there were plenty more votes out there for the taking.

While there was 6 percent more turnout this year than for the 2018 mayoral contest, only 38 percent of all registered voters cast ballots — pretty paltry for a year in which ballots went out in the mail to all active, registered voters.

With that in mind, here's a more comprehensive look at the votes that were cast, and where.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Candidates of Color Win, Lose and Even Tie on Town Meeting Day

Posted By and on Wed, Mar 3, 2021 at 8:29 PM

Esther Thomas - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Esther Thomas
The Vermont candidates of color profiled in a February 23 Seven Days cover story had a varied showing in Tuesday's election. Two won, three lost and one tied — a rare occurrence that could spark a recount.

Middlebury voters chose Esther Thomas, a residence director at Middlebury College, to serve a one-year term on the town’s selectboard. Naval Reserves officer Travia Childs won a two-year seat on the South Burlington School Board.

In the race for two seats on the Bennington Selectboard, Tina Cook just missed out. She came in third in a field of eight candidates, trailing second-place finisher Gary Corey by just 31 votes.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Burlington Voters Back Ballot Measures on Weed, Evictions By Big Margins

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 8:22 PM

Voters checking in at Edmunds Middle School - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Voters checking in at Edmunds Middle School
Updated at 10:43 p.m.

Burlington Progressives failed to unseat Mayor Miro Weinberger on Town Meeting Day, but voters delivered a resounding endorsement of the ballot measures the party’s candidates had championed.

Charter change proposals to limit evictions, resurrect ranked-choice voting and allow the city to tax properties heated by fossil fuels all advanced with more than 60 percent of votes, unofficial results show.

City residents also opted into a retail cannabis market by an overwhelming margin, paving the way for legal weed sales to begin there in fall of 2022.

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Weinberger Fends Off Tracy, Wins Fourth Term as Burlington Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 8:17 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger at the ECHO Center on Tuesday - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger at the ECHO Center on Tuesday
Updated at 11:01 p.m.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger won his fourth term by just 129 votes on Tuesday night.

Weinberger, a Democrat, earned 43 percent of votes, just barely defeating Progressive challenger and City Council President Max Tracy, who received 42 percent of votes. Councilor Ali Dieng, an independent, came in third with 13 percent of votes.

The mayor tallied 6,189 votes compared to Tracy’s 6,060 and Dieng’s 1,830, according to unofficial results from the city.

The four other independents in the race — Haik Bedrosian, Will Emmons, Kevin McGrath and Patrick White — earned a combined 245 votes, or about 2 percent of the total.

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Here's What's Happening on This Unprecedented Town Meeting Day

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 11:39 AM

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger at Edmunds Elementary School on Tuesday - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger at Edmunds Elementary School on Tuesday
An unprecedented Town Meeting Day is finally upon us.

Last year’s was held in person, just before the pandemic forever changed Vermont. Few meetings this year will actually be held in person, as is tradition, and many municipalities have encouraged residents to vote by mail. Some, using a new state law, have postponed meeting dates until later this spring. Most municipalities have opened polling places on Tuesday for those who want to vote in person.

Here are some of the top issues we’re following:

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Weinberger Maintains Fundraising Lead

Posted By on Sat, Feb 27, 2021 at 12:03 PM

Candidates Miro Weinberger (left) and Max Tracy at a honk-and-wave Friday evening - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Candidates Miro Weinberger (left) and Max Tracy at a honk-and-wave Friday evening
Burlington's mayoral election has yet to be decided, but incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger has undoubtedly won the money race.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Vermont Secretary of State on Friday — the last batch before the March 2 election — show the three-term Democrat has pulled in $132,673 from 483 donors since the campaign's start.

Weinberger raised $6,526 since the last filing deadline of February 20, including a $1,040 donation from former Vermont governor and fellow Dem Peter Shumlin.

Weinberger has raked in six-figure donations in three of his four elections for mayor. Ahead of the March 2 election this year, he beat his personal best of close to $125,000 in 2018.

Progressive challenger Max Tracy, the city council president, has raised $66,570, including $3,234 in the last week. Tracy has received donations from from 575 people thus far — more than any other candidate, a lead Tracy has held through the duration of the race.
Mayoral candidate Ali Dieng waving to motorists on North Avenue - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayoral candidate Ali Dieng waving to motorists on North Avenue
Independent candidate Ali Dieng, a fellow city councilor, has raised $11,317 from 120 donors. Supporters gave $397 since the last filing deadline.

Weinberger has also outspent both candidates. He's shelled out $102,010 to date, including close to $34,000 in the last week. Larger expenditures include $4,653 for yard signs and postcards, $1,344 for radio spots on WVMT and WCPV and $1,000 in online advertising.

Tracy has spent close to $52,700, while Dieng has spent just under $9,300.

The four other independents in the race — Haik Bedrosian, Will Emmons, Kevin McGrath and Patrick White — did not file any campaign finance reports.

On Friday evening, Dieng, Tracy and Weinberger all showed up on North Avenue at the Route 127 interchange along with supporters to hold up signs and wave to passing motorists.

Cost to the candidates: zero dollars.

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

North District Candidates Aim to Restore Balance to Divided Burlington Council

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 8:46 PM

Mark Barlow and Kienan Christianson - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Mark Barlow and Kienan Christianson
For the second time in as many years, Burlington’s North District has an open city council seat on Town Meeting Day.

All four city council district seats, which represent two wards apiece, are up for election on March 2. Franklin Paulino, a Democrat and one-term councilor in the North District, is the only incumbent not running for reelection.

Competing for his seat are independent Mark Barlow and Progressive/Democrat Kienan Christianson.

While some of their policies differ, the candidates both said the hyper-partisan dynamic on the council motivated them to run. Both say they're best suited to temper the political divide — Barlow because he hasn't aligned himself with either party and Christianson because he's able to work with both.

“I wouldn't caucus with anybody, but I would talk to everybody,” Barlow said. “The people that I would probably seek out most frequently are the people that I disagreed most strenuously with and tried to find common ground.”

Said Christianson: “When people get backed into their corners … it’s hard to find a path forward.” After he earned endorsements from both parties, Christianson said, it’s clear Burlingtonians want a councilor “who can work with both sides.”

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Signs Opposing Eviction Restrictions in Order to 'Protect BIPOC Tenants' Cause Stir

Posted By on Sun, Feb 21, 2021 at 9:50 PM

A sign in Burlington's Old North End - MATTHEW ROY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Matthew Roy ©️ Seven Days
  • A sign in Burlington's Old North End
Updated on February 22, 2021.

Renter-rights advocates are condemning signs that urge Burlington voters to protect tenants of color by rejecting a ballot item that would ban no-cause evictions. The proposal, the advocates say, would help, not harm, those tenants.

"Vote No on #5 Just Cause," the signs say. "Protect BIPOC tenants from racist neighbors."

The unsigned messages, which appeared along heavily trafficked public rights of way, seem to suggest that if Question 5 passes this Town Meeting Day, landlords would not be able to evict tenants who harass neighbors who are Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

The orange and white placards drew ire from proponents of the ballot item, including City Councilor Zoraya Hightower (P-Ward 1), who last year became the first woman of color to be elected to the council.

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Weinberger Breaks Fundraising Record in Burlington Mayor's Race; Tracy Boasts Most Donors

Posted By on Sun, Feb 21, 2021 at 1:05 PM

L to R: Miro Weinberger, Max Tracy, Ali Dieng - FILE: BEAR CIERI
  • File: Bear Cieri
  • L to R: Miro Weinberger, Max Tracy, Ali Dieng
With days to go until the Town Meeting Day election on March 2, records show Mayor Miro Weinberger has maintained his two-to-one fundraising lead over his Progressive challenger, City Council President Max Tracy.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Vermont Secretary of State on Saturday night show the three-term Democrat has raked in $126,147, besting his own record-breaking haul of about $125,500 during the 2018 campaign. He has brought in $40,400 since January 31, the last reporting deadline.

“I am both humbled and grateful to have earned your support,” Weinberger wrote in an email to supporters Saturday evening. “Our fundraising success confirms what I have sensed since we launched our campaign in December, Burlingtonians know these are serious times and this is a critical election.”
Tracy has raised $63,336 total, including $20,895 this reporting period. He's also attracted the most new donors since the last reporting deadline and has the most contributors in the race. A total of 547 people have donated to Tracy’s campaign, while 461 have given to Weinberger and 115 to fellow contender Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7).

Dieng has raised $10,920 to date, about $3,200 since the last filing date.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Burlington Police Union Accuses Tracy of Suppressing Opposing Views

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 10:35 PM

City Council President Max Tracy - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • City Council President Max Tracy
The Burlington police union has accused City Council President Max Tracy (P-Ward 2) of silencing opposing viewpoints and “cherry picking what narrative he would like to push forward” during public forums at council meetings — allegations that Tracy, a mayoral candidate, strenuously denies.

Cpl. Tyler Badeau, president of the Burlington Police Officers’ Association, said he signed up to speak during Monday night’s council meeting, before councilors failed to overturn a mayoral veto of a proposal to bolster citizen oversight of police.
He had intended to read a statement from the union in support of Mayor Miro Weinberger’s veto of the Progressive-backed plan, which sought to create a new “community control board” to investigate and discipline cops for misconduct. Despite signing up five hours before the meeting started, Badeau said that Tracy never called on him.

"If [Progressive councilors] were truly interested in governing correctly, they would allow equal time during the public forum for all voices, and they're not," Badeau said. "Max isn’t interested in governing. He’s interested in his agenda."

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