Bob Bolyard has worn many hats over the 23 years he's lived in Burlington — justice of the peace, arts organizer, Lake Monsters announcer, drag queen — but city councilor has not been among them.
That could change come November if Bolyard (pictured) wins the race for the open Ward 3 seat on the Burlington City Council.
Bolyard — who is better known to some Vermonters as drag queen Amber LeMay of the House of LeMay, or as the T-shirt-launching, on-field announcer at Lake Monsters' games — secured the Democratic nomination Monday for the council seat being vacated by Progressive Marissa Caldwell.
He will face Progressive Vince Brennan, a Ward 3 school board member, on Nov. 2. It's an ambitious gambit for a guy with no shortage of personality and pizazz: No Democrat has held a seat from Ward 3 in at least two decades, according to Burlington's Democratic chairman.
Photo by Jordan Silverman
"I just decided it was time to step it up," Bolyard tells Seven Days. "I know the diversity of the city as well as probably anybody and I think I could be a nice cohesive person on the council and bring a perspective that a lot of people don't see outside of their own neighborhood."
If Bolyard wins, he'd be the eighth Democrat on the City Council, giving the party an outright majority. On a logistical level, Burlington Democratic chairman David Cain says that would mean Democrats could no longer caucus in secret. They'd have to do it out in the open at City Council meetings or not at all.
Cain described Bolyard as an independent-minded Democrat who isn't a "straight caucus voter. He'll vote in the best interest of Ward 3."
Bolyard claims his platform will be to listen to his neighbors and bring their concerns to City Hall.
"Some say it's a referendum on the Kiss administration, others are using it as a chance to show dissatisfacton with Burlington Telecom," Bolyard says. "But you know, I live in one of the most diverse wards — or neighborhoods, possibly — on the East Coast and most of those people don't speak English, let alone vote, but they're still citizens or our town, so I plan on doing what I can to make sure they're heard as well."
On the subject of the Kiss administration and Burlington Telecom, Bolyard said, "There's some things I just don't know enough about and that's one of them. But I definitely will ask questions."
Maintaining Burlington's aging infrastructure — sewers, roads, etc. — is a priority for Bolyard. Asked if Amber LeMay will be campaigning for him, Bolyard laughs.
"The League of Drag Queen Voters do not support any particular candidate," he says. "They just want to encourage people to exercise their right to vote. It could be a double-edged sword too, but I'm not worried about it. It's a hobby and I think most people realize there's a separation between what I do for fun and amusement. It's different than what I could do on the city council."
Click here to read Seven Days' 2008 cover story about Bolyard and his many many jobs. Click here for a musical slideshow of Bolyard's many faces by photographer Jordan Silverman. The video shows the League of Drag Queen Voters (Amber LeMay is on the right at start of video) performing a diddy for gubernatorial candidate Doug Racine at the St. Johns Club in Burlington this past June.