Progressive Burlington City Councilors Brian Pine (Ward 3) and Max Tracy (Ward 2) each made their case to become the next mayor of Burlington during a caucus Tuesday night that otherwise featured few contested races.
Nearly 1,400 people registered for the party’s first-ever virtual caucus, which was streamed on Zoom and the party’s Facebook page. Both Pine and Tracy promised that if elected, they’d bring change to Burlington after nearly nine years of leadership under Mayor Miro Weinberger. The three-term Democrat is running for reelection and is expected to win his party’s nomination at its caucus on Sunday.
The candidates touted their voting records on topics ranging from housing to police reform. Fellow Councilor Zoraya Hightower (Ward 1) nominated Tracy, saying he’s loyal to party values and would uplift voices from marginalized communities.
“I would generally say that I don't really trust politicians — especially cis, white, male politicians — but I definitely trust Max,” she said, adding, “I believe Max can win this election and build our party into the diverse and inclusive party we have always sought to be, and foster change that makes all of our lives better.”
Tracy said if elected, he would propose divesting funds from police and investing in initiatives that help Black, Indigenous and other people of color. He said he would fight for overdose prevention sites and rent stabilization, and would seek to make Burlington’s transportation sector more climate-friendly.
First elected to council in 2012, Tracy said he’s spent the last eight years fighting Weinberger’s agenda, including the CityPlace Burlington project and the basing of the F-35 fighter jets at the Burlington International Airport. He called for “dramatic, structural and transformational changes.”
“Our party is well positioned to win this mayoral race,” Tracy said, “but Burlingtonians can’t and won't be fooled by candidates who fail to offer meaningful and distinctive differences from status quo Miro.”
University of Vermont economics professor Stephanie Seguino nominated Pine, saying he can lead the city through the pandemic and has the people skills to find common ground with every Burlingtonian.
“Even when Brian disagrees with someone, he listens with heart and sensitivity,” Seguino said. “More than anybody I know in Burlington, Brian inspires trust, and he is profoundly respected across the entire city and across the political spectrum.”
Pine said his long record of public service shows he can lead. If elected, Pine said he would enact a “truly Progressive economic development agenda” by diverting city resources to underserved residents. Pine said he supports banning no-cause evictions to protect renters and would advocate for the city’s homeless residents.
Pine served on the city council in the 1990s before rejoining in 2018. In between council stints, he worked as the city’s housing director for 18 years. Pine said he would fight for economic, climate and racial justice if elected mayor.
“We must bring all voices into the political process to create a stronger community for generations to come,” he said. “Together, we can accomplish great things. We are one city. We have one future.”
Caucus-goers also nominated a slate of city council candidates for each of the four districts, all of which were uncontested.
Grace Ahmed, an artist and community organizer, hopes to unseat longtime incumbent Democrat Joan Shannon in the South District. One-time city council candidate Nathan Lantieri nominated Ahmed, saying she can represent “the diverse needs of our changing neighborhood.”
Ahmed said she wants to involve more people in city decision-making and said she looks forward to hearing her constituents’ priorities if elected.
Kienan Christianson was nominated for the North District, a seat for which he ran unsuccessfully in 2019. He promised to find solutions for affordable housing and for Burlington High School, which closed in September over air quality concerns.
Christianson will also seek the Democratic nomination on Sunday alongside fellow New North Ender Kerin Durfee. Christianson said he hasn't decided if he'll run under a party flag or as an independent, as he did two years ago.
Independent Mark Barlow is also running for the North District seat in March.
Incumbents Jack Hanson and Perri Freeman were nominated for the East and Central districts, respectively. Burlington Democrats have not yet announced any candidates to challenge those seats.
Voters also nominated candidates for ward clerks and election inspectors.
Ballots will be accepted electronically until 7 p.m. on Thursday. Voters can also cast ballots in person at the Old North End Community Center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday or 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday.