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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Burlington Councilors Fail to Override Mayor's Veto of Police Oversight Proposal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Racial justice protesters in downtown Burlington - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Racial justice protesters in downtown Burlington
Burlington city councilors on Monday failed to override Mayor Miro Weinberger's veto of a proposal to create a new citizen board that would investigate and discipline police for misconduct.

The 7-5 tally was one vote short of the eight needed to overturn the mayoral decision. The result was identical to last month's council vote on the original proposal, with Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7) joining all six council Progressives in support of an override.
None of the five Democrats flipped, despite pleas from dozens of callers during public forum who urged them to reconsider.

"Even for those of us who are going to be voting to sustain the veto, it's with a very heavy heart," Councilor Chip Mason (D-Ward 5) said during the virtual council meeting. "I think everyone that I'm seeing on the screen right now supports a civilian oversight body."

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Weinberger Vetoes Police Oversight Ballot Item, Urges Council to Compromise

Posted By on Fri, Jan 1, 2021 at 3:32 PM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has vetoed a Progressive-led proposal to create a new police oversight board, offering to rescind his decision only if city councilors agree to "find common ground" before Monday evening's council meeting.

The proposal sought to form an "independent community control board" with the authority to investigate and discipline cops for misconduct. The council passed the resolution on a 7-5 vote on December 14, intending to send the charter change to the Town Meeting Day ballot in March.
Instead, Weinberger kicked the measure back to the council without his approval. In a three-page memo issued on New Year's Eve, the mayor wrote that the proposal would dismantle the city's police department and "compromise the City’s ability to ensure public safety."

"I veto the Charter Change with great reluctance, because I agree that the current charter is problematic and there is urgency to amend it," Weinberger wrote. "If we cannot find consensus now and my veto is sustained, we must find other ways to make near term progress on the issue of police discipline."

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Dieng Outlines Campaign Promises in Announcing Burlington Mayoral Bid

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 3:05 PM

City Councilor Ali Dieng - COURTESY OF ORAH MOORE
  • Courtesy of Orah Moore
  • City Councilor Ali Dieng
City Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7) formally announced his mayoral campaign on Monday by outlining a long list of initiatives he'd tackle if elected in March.

Sitting in front of a wall of campaign signs bearing the slogan "Transparency, Unity, Action," Dieng promised to be a collaborative leader who will address "the critical problems of our time."

"Our city needs a trustworthy leader with an inclusive vision geared toward bringing people together and transforming Vermont's largest city into the best small city in North America," he said.

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Friday, March 6, 2020

Aden Haji Unseats Incumbent in Burlington School Board Race

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2020 at 6:18 PM

Aden Haji on election night - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Aden Haji on election night
Updated on March 7, 2020.

In the only contested Burlington School Board race Tuesday night, newcomer Aden Haji knocked off Keith Pillsbury, the incumbent who'd served 23 nonconsecutive years on the board since 1987.

Haji, 25, earned about 58 percent of the votes (533) to Pillsbury's 41 percent (371) en route to winning the Ward 8 seat.

Haji and his family were the first Somali Bantu refugees resettled in Vermont when they arrived in Burlington in 2003.

“I know everybody brings something new to the table, but I felt like my voice was really needed due to the experience that I’ve had,” Haji said.

Pillsbury, a retired Essex middle school teacher, said he's offered to help Haji in any way he can. While the loss is bittersweet, Pillsbury said serving on the board is a big time commitment, and he was looking forward to having more time to himself.

"I have done my community service," Pillsbury said. "Aden is a success story of the Burlington school system. I wish him all the best."

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Recount Under Way in Contested South Burlington City Council Race

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 2:35 PM

Matt Cota campaigning with his daughter, Molly, on Tuesday - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Matt Cota campaigning with his daughter, Molly, on Tuesday
It's not over until it's over — and in South Burlington, it ain't over.

After losing by only 74 votes Tuesday, South Burlington City Council candidate Matt Cota has successfully sought a recount in his race against incumbent Meaghan Emery.

She won with 3,940 votes compared to 3,866 for Cota, which equates to 50.47 percent of the total vote to Cota's 49.52 percent. That outcome easily meets the statutory requirement that allows for a recount when the margin of victory is less than five percent.

Cota said he requested the recount Wednesday morning not only because the results were so close, but also because the city was swamped with a much higher turnout than normal on Town Meeting Day. The city ran out of ballots and had to make copies, which meant officials had to hand count a portion of them.

"Given these sort of odd circumstances where we ran out of ballots, this will ensure that we have a final tally that reflects every vote," Cota said. He added: "I would fully expect that anyone in my position, including my opponent, would do the same thing."

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Emery Keeps South Burlington Council Seat; Massive School Bond Fails

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 1:05 AM

Councilor Meaghan Emery - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Councilor Meaghan Emery
In an extremely close race Tuesday, incumbent Meaghan Emery won reelection to the South Burlington City Council by fending off challenger Matt Cota.

Emery earned 3,940 votes — just 74 more than Cota's 3,866. That's 50.47 percent for Emery to 49.52 percent for Cota.

Reached by phone around midnight Tuesday, Cota said the results were "disappointing, but we'll pick back up tomorrow and see what happens." He was unsure if he'd request a recount.

"I'm just really proud of the way we ran our campaign," Cota said. "This was my first campaign, and it tells me that people in South Burlington really wanted a change."
He added: "It's been an experience of a lifetime. I had so many people come out and work so hard for this."

Meanwhile, South Burlington voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed $209 million bond for a new middle and high school facility. About 79 percent of voters — 6,514 — cast ballots against the bond. About 20.8 percent — 1,712 — voted in favor.
A Vote No sign outside of the Orchard School - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • A Vote No sign outside of the Orchard School
The sentiment spilled over into voting on the school budget, which residents also rejected. About 57 percent — 4,711 people — voted against the $55.8 million budget.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Bernie Sanders
As He Votes in Vermont, Sanders Confident His Campaign's 'Energy' Will Carry the Day

Posted By and on Tue, Mar 3, 2020 at 2:03 PM

Bernie Sanders speaking to reporters outside the polls in Burlington on Tuesday - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Bernie Sanders speaking to reporters outside the polls in Burlington on Tuesday
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cast his vote Tuesday morning on a pivotal election day in the Democratic presidential primary, as voters in 14 states, including Vermont, weighed in on the race.

Driving a green Subaru Forester, Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, arrived at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington's New North End around 10:30 a.m. They were met by a media scrum of dozens of reporters and camera crews who had traveled to Vermont ahead of Sanders' election night rally in Essex.

"Welcome to the state of Vermont. You've increased the GDP by 16 percent," Sanders quipped.

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Newcomers Look to Oust Bushor in Burlington's Ward 1 Council Race

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 3:15 PM

Councilor Sharon Bushor (I-Ward 1) - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN
  • File: Courtney Lamdin
  • Councilor Sharon Bushor (I-Ward 1)
The only three-way race for a Burlington City Council seat is happening in Ward 1, an eastern section of the city that encompasses most of the University of Vermont and its surrounding streets.

"All three of us are actively door knocking and engaging with constituents and voters. There's a lot of energy and electricity in the ward," said incumbent Sharon Bushor, an independent who has served on the city council for 32 years.

Bushor, a 73-year-old retired medical technician, has often aligned with the Progressive Party but was snubbed in December when it endorsed her challenger — Zoraya Hightower, a 29-year-old environmental and development professional who serves on the city Development Review Board but has never held elected office in Burlington. The third candidate, Democrat Jillian Scannell, is a 22-year-old senior at UVM who is president of the university's Student Government Association.

Each says she is best suited to represent the ward roughly bounded by Willard Street, Main Street, Centennial Woods and the Winooski River. It is home to many student renters, as well as longtime homeowners and renters.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Colchester Residents Vote Down Malletts Bay Sewer Bond

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 10:15 PM

The proposed sewer area along Malletts Bay
  • The proposed sewer area along Malletts Bay
Colchester voters flushed a proposed $14.3 million sewer line for Malletts Bay Tuesday by a vote of 1,396 to 1,203.

The defeat by fewer than 200 votes was a disappointment, Town Manager Aaron Frank said Tuesday night.

"The selectboard will have to take a pause, do some reflection and figure out where do we go from here,” Frank said.

Inadequate private septic systems at homes and camps along the bay can leak human waste into the water, a problem the proposed sewer line was intended to mitigate. But critics said it was an expensive project that wouldn't actually solve complex pollution problems in the scenic and heavily used bay. They also worried the sewer line would accelerate development.

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Kristine Lott Wins Winooski's Top Job — and Makes History

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 10:06 PM

Kristine Lott - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Kristine Lott
Winooski elected a woman as its mayor for the first time Tuesday when voters chose Kristine Lott over Eric Covey.

The 33-year-old business analyst and her supporters whooped with joy as the results were announced at the Winooski Senior Center minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m. She got 650 votes to Covey's 478.

Lott was still clad in a thick wool hat, ski pants and heavy boots that she had worn to spend the day greeting voters outside the polls. Lott vowed to make good on her platform to get residents involved in city affairs.

"My primary goal is just to make sure that residents really feel like they are a part of the decisions and engaged in the city," Lott said.

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