City Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7) formally announced his mayoral campaign on Monday by outlining a long list of initiatives he'd tackle if elected in March.
Sitting in front of a wall of campaign signs bearing the slogan "Transparency, Unity, Action," Dieng promised to be a collaborative leader who will address "the critical problems of our time."
"Our city needs a trustworthy leader with an inclusive vision geared toward bringing people together and transforming Vermont's largest city into the best small city in North America," he said.
Though Dieng had quietly declared his candidacy a few weeks before, his official campaign kickoff came the day after incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger won the Democrats' endorsement for the fourth time. Dieng will also face Progressive City Council President Max Tracy (Ward 2) and Patrick White, a South End resident and political newcomer who is also running without a party label.
As mayor, Dieng said he would combat systemic racism, including by hiring a city workforce that "reflects the community that we serve." He wants city budgeting to be more transparent and would form a "policy bank" where residents could submit policy ideas to be vetted by experts.
Dieng said he would also create commissions on aging and accessibility, the latter of which would help physically disabled Burlingtonians access city amenities. He suggested the city could eradicate homelessness by building a tiny home village where residents could receive services.
"I am ready and willing to work with everyone, in all parties, and across all sectors to build a healthier, stronger, [more] inclusive city," Dieng said. "We can do the hard and necessary work."
An immigrant from Mauritania, Dieng is the only non-white mayoral candidate in the field. He said he'd draw on his lived experience as a New American to unify the city, which, in his view, has been divided after nearly nine years under Weinberger. Dieng pointed to the stalled CityPlace Burlington project and tensions over police reform as examples of "hardships" created by the sitting mayor.