BURLINGTON, Vt. – Despite some new faces getting elected to the Burlington City Council, the balance of power will remain with Queen City Progressives following Town Meeting Day.
With incumbent councilors Chip Mason (D) and Jane Stromberg (P) opting not to seek reelection, their constituents elected new councilors from the same parties.
Ben Traverse (D) will represent Ward 5 after a landslide victory over two Independent candidates, while Ali House (P) managed to defeat Hannah King (D) by 43 votes in Ward 8.
The closest race of the night by far was Ward 7, where incumbent Ali Dieng (I) winning by two votes over Aleczander Stith (D).
Mayor Miro Weinberger spoke after the votes were in, and despite Progressives holding on to a majority, he was upbeat about the results.
“To me, I see a clear message from voters of concern about the direction of the city council, a desire for a change in direction,” Mayor Weinberger said. “I certainly hope coming out of this we will have less of the polarizing debates we’ve seen over the last couple of years, particularly in public safety.”
Voters also approved a combined $50 million for projects throughout the city.
A $24 million general obligation bond will be used to replace several city fire trucks and the emergency communication system, as well as repair ten city-owned buildings.
$25 million will be used to revamp a stretch of Main Street. Weinberger said it could ultimately prove to be the ‘most important’ initiative passed this Town Meeting Day.
“I do think people are going to look back on the upgrade and transformation of Main Street in very similar terms to the way we think of the Church Street Marketplace 40 years ago,” Mayor Weinberger said. “We are going to completely rebuild six blocks of Main Street from Memorial Auditorium to the train station. In just a few short years, the experience of being on Main Street is going to be totally different than it is today.”
Voters also approved a $98 million budget for the Burlington School District, and voted in favor of removing old language from the city charter many view as demeaning to sex workers. The section that would be removed is listed below:
“To restrain and suppress houses of ill fame and disorderly houses, and to punish common
prostitutes and persons consorting therewith.”
People gathered outside a polling location at Edmunds Middle School to voice their support for the change: