Vermont Democratic Party's Executive Director to Resign | Off Message

Vermont Democratic Party's Executive Director to Resign

By

TIM NEWCOMB
  • Tim Newcomb
The executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party will resign to "pursue new opportunities," the party announced Monday night, just days after another staffer quit over what he called "a complete and utter failure" of leadership.

Scott McNeil, who took over as executive director of the party in September 2019 after two years in a similar role in North Dakota, will stay on for an undisclosed amount of time to "help ease this transition," the political org wrote in a three-paragraph press release.

The release did not quote McNeil, and he could not be reached for comment Monday night.



The announcement comes four days after the party's affairs and outreach director, Kevin Burgess, sent the organization a scathing resignation letter that indicted its leaders for failing to address systemic issues such as an "old boys club" and a lack of support for candidates of color.

"There is no vision, no plan, and no structure," Burgess wrote in his letter. "Multiple attempts to rectify this, through union representation and staff conversations, have not resulted in any remedies."

"Instead, leadership turns a blind eye to the concerns and needs of staff," he continued. "While I don't mean to speak for anyone else, I am not the only Vermont Democratic Party staffer who feels this way."

Burgess, who has declined to comment on his resignation, had hoped to continue working with the party until March 4. But hours after receiving his letter, the party said he was no longer an employee. Burgess could not be reached for an interview Monday night.
The Vermont Democratic Party has been plagued by a high rate of turnover in recent years. At the time of his 2019 hiring, McNeil was the third executive director in roughly a year. Three of the party's four other current employees measure their time there in months, while the party has had four chairs in as many years. The current one, Bruce Olsson, did not return a call for comment.

On Monday, the party's press release alluded to some of those struggles, describing a "significant change in staffing" of late. "We are very grateful for all of the good work that our staff has done, particularly in support of the 2020 election, as well as in preparation for the 2022 election cycle ahead," the party wrote.

Burgess' criticisms also appear to have struck a nerve, judging by the final paragraph of the press release, which described Democrats as having a "common mission to engage and welcome all Vermonters."

"We will be doing so through dedicated efforts to support our relationships with marginalized communities, through the ongoing work of our town and county committees, and by working with allied groups that share our vision for a more diverse and inclusive Vermont," the press release said.