Burlington, VT — Following Jack Hanson’s resignation in September and Ali House stepping down earlier this month, two seats on Burlington’s City Council have been left vacant.

While House’s seats will not get replaced until Town Meeting Day in March, the East District seat is set to be filled in a special election on December 6 and both candidates have shared why they think they are right for the job.

After the caucuses, the matchup pits 22-year-old progressive Dina John against democratic candidate 57-year-old Maea Brandt.

Brandt, a 32-year native of Burlington is an instructor of Fine Arts at Saint Michael’s College. She says she is aiming to impact the most urgent issues the city is facing and that her experience in the city will help her do so.

“The gun violence is scary,” said Brandt. “The housing problem is really a crisis. Burlington is in crisis. And I’m running for city council because I feel like we really need to solve some pressing problems.”

John graduated from UVM earlier this year and is now a law clerk at the Chittenden County Superior Court. She says her knowledge of working with defendants and prosecutors will help the council come together. “I would make sure that both sides feel heard, listened to and supported so we can get to a solution. I think people are done asking for change.”

John moved to Vermont from Kenya at the age of three and said that her own experiences with housing struggles and being an immigrant make her the ideal candidate. “I thought about working class families, I thought about the healthcare workers and I just thought about people that have lost people to gun violence like I have.” 

After 22-year-old Ali House resigned from her Ward 8 seat, South District Councilor Joan Shannon expressed concerns about young councilors being “transient” and that there is a need for candidates that are “rooted in the community”.

Meanwhile, John Wronski, the Executive Director of Vermont’s Progressive Party does not believe age will be an issue with John. “There’s a learning curve for everyone going on to council, especially in Burlington where they are often dealing with some very intense issues, so of course there’s going to be a learning curve, as there is for every city councilor.” 

Regardless of the candidate, Brandt thinks a democratic voice is needed in the East District. “I want to step up and I feel that the progressives in Burlington have had the opportunity to address major problems and it hasn’t worked.” 

Republicans will not field a candidate in the special election. Early voting will begin on Monday and polls will be open in the East District at the Fletcher Free Library and Mater Christi School in Burlington on December 6.