BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Burlington Progressive Party has gained momentum in City Council over the past two Town Meeting Day elections, and in March, they’ll be making a push for the Mayor’s office.
The party still needs to caucus and decide on a nominee, and will hold a virtual caucus on December 1.
Currently, City Council President Max Tracy and longtime councilor Brian Pine have both entered the race.
On Wednesday, they participated in a racial justice forum moderated by members of the Black Perspective Movement. The two candidates explained how they’d look to make Burlington more equitable for everyone, and how they’d bring a diverse range of voices to the table if elected.
“What we’ve seen over the past few months has been an awakening for the City of Burlington, because for far too long we’ve been asleep,” said Max Tracy. “We’ve been asleep in terms of how we deal with racial and social justice in Burlington, and we haven’t done enough to build the inclusive and equitable city that we all know we can be.”
Tracy has been representing Ward 2 in the City Council for eight years, and became City Council President in March.
Pine would bring nearly 30 years of experience in city government to the job, having served two stints on the City Council and working for nearly 20 years in the city’s Community and Economic Development Office.
“I have come to appreciate as a community what we can do when we raise these issues around people of color, BIPOC community members, LGBTQ+ community members, and really elevate those needs and those voices and make them central to our plans, policies and everything about city government,” Pine said.
A primary focus of Wednesday’s candidate forum was transparency. Tracy said he believes that’s an area the current administration has fallen short, especially when it comes to racial justice.
“When you look at a variety of the police incidents that have happened over the last year, we’ve seen concealment be the number one motive when it comes to these issues, to hide that information from the public and city council,” Tracy said. “That is unacceptable.”
There’s been a sense of frustration among some Burlington Progressives who feel that too many of the city’s key decisions happen behind closed doors.
Pine said there needs to be more focus and engagement in the NPA meetings that happen in each ward of the city in order to shape an agenda that reflects the communities’ needs. He explained how that process helped inform decisions during his time at CEDO.
“We renovated housing and made it perpetually affordable, we focused on the youth, we did focus groups for elderly, focus groups for new Americans, and we brought people to the table in that process,” Pine said. “That’s the type of public participation we need to bring back to City Hall. The best form of Democratic government is the one that has the light shining all the time.”
This year’s nominating caucus for the Burlington Progressive Party will happen entirely online, and party members can register online to participate. There’s a final candidate forum on economic justice scheduled for November 19.