by Peter Freyne
Political grudges never die in the People's Republic of Burlington, Vermont.
Twenty-six years ago it was a screaming leftist/progressive/Independent named Bernie Sanders narrowly defeating an incumbent Old Guard Democrat - Mayor Gordie Paquette - in the three-way 1981 mayor's race.
And to this day, 26 years later, Democrats, at least inside Burlington's City Hall, appear unable to forget.
They'd rather have a Republican who thinks highly of George "WMD" Bush and the job he's done as their next council president, instead of someone who voted for Bernie Sanders over Richie Rich Tarrant and thinks Mr. Bush deserves impeachment.
According to leaders of both the five-seat City Council Democrat Caucus and the four-seat Progressive Party caucus, Republican City Councilor and State Rep. Kurt Wright (right), will be elected president of the 14-seat Burlington City Council Monday night over Progressive City Councilor Tim Ashe. According to Democratic and Progressive sources, the vote for Kwik Stop Kurt will be 8-6.
Wright will replace Democrat Ian Carleton, the state party chairman, who resigned for personal reasons. Sources say the New North End Republican will get the votes of four Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent.
Democratic City Councilor and State Rep Bill Keogh told "Freyne Land" the council Demos met on Sunday and none were interested in seeking the president’s post. Keogh said Wright, despite being a Republican, "knows the process and will be fair in running the meetings." Keogh said he’d like to think Wright "will not invoke his personal agenda."
Ashe, the Prog presidential candidate, responded to our email inquiry acknowledging that unless the Democrats' "soul-searching finds a soul," Wright will win 8-6.
Progressive Mayor Bob KIss (at left at "No Idling" presser earlier today outside City Hall), told yours truly he will work with whoever is elected council president, but would prefer someone other than Wright, with whom he served six years in the Vermont House before becoming mayor:
"Kurt and I often don’t agree, but I think we do kind of bring, ah, ideas and information to the battle and we come up with solutions. So, I’ll work with whatever the council decides tonight.
"Obviously, I would prefer different leadership, but I think we can work effectively together."
Kwik Stop Kurt - who we first met in 1979 when he started working the counter at Kerry's Kwik Stop on St. Paul Street (Utica Club beer cost 69 cents-a-quart), did not respond to our voice mail request for an interview this morning.
Back then, he'd always have The Jack Barry Show on the store radio. That was the hot morning radio talk show of it's day in Burlington. Kurt became a regular caller. Only person I've ever seen ring up and bag a grocery order, make change and talk on a radio show simultaneously!
Wish the late, great "Be sure and tell 'em Barry brought you!" Jack Barry were here to see this, eh?
[Probably rolling over in his grave.]
Congratulations, President-elect Wright!