Progressives in Burlington are coming off a successful town meeting day that improved their representation on City Council.
Central District Councilor-elect Perri Freeman knocked off Jane Knodell, a longtime incumbent who ran as an independent after losing the support of Progressives before the election.
“We had intergenerational momentum and we were talking about issues and values that were resonating,” said Freeman.
Knodell said her defeat showed “a kind of a division about how do we move progressive ideas forward.”
Another newcomer is Jack Hanson, who defeated Democratic incumbent Richard Deane in the East District.
“This shows a shift in priorities in the direction that people want to see the city go,” said Hanson.
The 12-member council now consists of five Progressives, five Democrats, two Independents, a Republican and a hybrid progressive-democrat in Ward 7’s Ali Dieng.
“We now have a really awesome and diverse council,” said Freeman.
With new younger progressive representation comes bold ideas, Freemand and Hanson said: increasing wages and affordable housing and proposing climate change initiatives.
“It’s going to have to be happening at the local level,” said Hanson on climate change. “We can’t wait for the federal government to get their act together, we have to start now.”
Knodell said that, in her experience, change is easier said than done.
“They need to be bringing some of these big bold ideas and to really start now explaining how we are going to do them,” he said.
The newly elected Progressives admit there is a rift between Democrats and Progressives on some issues, including the handling of Burlington Telecom and the City Place redevelopment.
As for Knodell, it appears her time public service is not over.
Burlington has not seen the last of Jane Knodell,” she said. “I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m certainly going to be very involved.”
Freeman and Hanson will be sworn in next month.