Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s announcement last week that he would not seek a fifth term has opened the door for potential successors to step up.
Two seasoned elected officials say they are considering a campaign to replace Weinberger on March’s Town Meeting ballot — and become the first woman elected mayor of the Queen City.
South District City Councilor Joan Shannon, a Democrat, says she’s wrestling with the decision. If she does run, she says she would continue Weinberger’s priorities, including fiscal stability and more housing development in the city, while staking out her own.
“Public safety is a tremendous concern with our homelessness and drug crises,” Shannon said. “What we’re seeing play out in our streets is both unsafe and inhumane.”
Progressive state Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, a former city councilor, took to social media last week to voice her interest in the job. She says Burlington has struggled to address complex challenges under Weinberger’s leadership.
“More community engagement and how we define safety in the city,” she said. “And the kind of expectations we have for department heads. We deserve leaders who are collaborative, who are looking to build trust with the community.”
Mulvaney-Stanak says she would prioritize the homelessness crisis, public safety, the opioid epidemic and mental health services – problems that she believes have shaken Burlingtonians’ trust in city leadership.
And, she says, her experience and relationships in Montpelier set her apart from potential challengers.
“Being able to make sure we have a strong and effective presence in the statehouse,” she says. “I think that is something Burlington has not leveraged enough.”
Shannon And Mulvaney-Stanak both say they have heard from dozens of people encouraging them to run to replace Weinberger.
“I’ve been here for 20 years,” she says. “I have a certain style and my strengths, others have their strengths, and I look forward to the process.”
Mulvaney-Stanak said the ability to work with a divided council will be a vital to the next mayor’s success.
“It would be the job of mayor to also listen to their priorities and to find pathways where they are heard in our political process,” she said.
Neither the Democratic nor Progressive parties are expected to hold nominating caucuses before late November. So the possibilities for next year’s mayoral race will likely become more clear before the end of the year.