Meet Burlington's Newest City Councilor: Ali Dieng

BURLINGTON, Vt. - There's a new face on the Burlington City Council.

Democrat Tom Ayres resigned to become the new executive director of the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph.

Tuesday, Ali Dieng won a special election with 62 percent of the vote.

The new city councilor says his election victory is a sign of change in the Queen City.

"Looks like I will be the second city councilor of color, but I am the first city councilor from Africa, who is [an] immigrant," said Dieng.

Dieng moved to the United States from West Africa in 2007; he moved to Burlington in 2008.

"And since then, I started working for the Burlington School District. I started at the Flynn Elementary School, and then I directed the after-school program at C.P Smith," said Dieng.

In addition to his new role on city council, he's currently the Family Outreach Coordinator for Burlington Expanded Learning Opportunities.

"Anything about summer school, after school, I work directly with parents," said Dieng.

Dieng also serves on several boards, including Rights and Democracy.

He's also the manager of Parent University, a program to help the parents of students in the district.

"We do the program that I created three years ago and that works in partnership with many organizations to help families, especially the most vulnerable ones, new Americans; understanding the system, American system and also to help engage as equal partners in their children's education," said Dieng.

Now, he hopes to utilize skills from his background while he serves with city council.

"We need to diversify in terms of perspective, in terms of ideas, in terms of also connection. Because most of the time, people get elected and then they forget about the people that elected them," said Dieng.

Dieng says even though his campaign is over, he'll still continue to knock on the doors of his community to keep the conversation going.

"[We need] to go across the party lines to make sure that every single person who live here are respected and also invited to be part of the process," said Dieng.

The progressive-democrat says his election is a small part of the change, and is happy to start in Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders neighborhood doing so.

"We cannot always wait for just people to make decision for us and people who've been around here for a very long time. It is time for change, and the real change, grassroots change. We're working on it, and definitely that will happen," said Dieng.

Dieng's term is up in March 2018, so he would have to run for re-election.

The new city councilor will have a honk and wave event Thursday to thank his supporters.


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