Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Launches Bid for Burlington Mayor | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Launches Bid for Burlington Mayor


Published October 16, 2023 at 8:22 p.m.

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, a state legislator and longtime Progressive, is running for Burlington mayor.

Mulvaney-Stanak launched her campaign on Monday outside the Old North End Community Center, where she was joined by family members, supporters and friends. She will seek the Progressive nomination.

Mulvaney-Stanak is the first candidate to announce a bid to succeed Mayor Miro Weinberger, a four-term Democrat who has said he won't run again. The Town Meeting Day election is scheduled for March 5, 2024.

Mulvaney-Stanak called the upcoming election a “turning point for Burlington.” She said she’s the right person to lead the city as it contends with rising rates of substance-use disorder and homelessness and a lack of mental health care.

“I have built my career on collaboration, deep listening and tenacious problem solving,” she said. “These are the skills and values that Burlington deserves today.”

With no mayoral incumbent running, others are expected to jump into the race. Several have already expressed interest, all of them women in a city that's never elected a female mayor. Possible Democratic contenders include longtime City Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District) and C D Mattison, a tech consultant. Carina Driscoll is also mulling a run as an independent.
Mulvaney-Stanak, 43, has been steeped in Progressive politics her entire life. Raised in Barre by activists Ed Stanak and Joelen Mulvaney, she and twin sibling, Llu, grew up accompanying their parents to protests and polling places. Her father, Ed, worked as an Act 250 coordinator for three decades and ran as the Progressive candidate for attorney general in 2012.

By that time, Mulvaney-Stanak had started her own political career as an organizer with the Peace & Justice Center and Vermont-NEA. She served on the Burlington City Council and in 2013 became the chair of the state Progressive Party. She was elected to represent Burlington in the Vermont House in 2021 and leads the Prog party caucus.

Mulvaney-Stanak said she’s a “bridge builder” who can work with Democrats, Republicans and independents. She cited her work as the only Progressive on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, which is chaired by a Republican. Mulvaney-Stanak said she was able to garner unanimous support for including a provision in a workforce development bill to support BIPOC business owners.

If elected, Mulvaney-Stanak said her priority would be addressing community safety and that she would propose policies that use “evidence-based enforcement strategies that deter negative behavior.” She also said there needs to be a “prompt and appropriate response when people call for help.”

That includes police. In an interview with Seven Days before Monday's press conference, Mulvaney-Stanak said community policing, including foot patrols in neighborhoods, could help rebuild trust with the department. She also supports public safety alternatives, such as the Burlington Fire Department's newly launched overdose response team and the forthcoming Burlington CARES team, which will dispatch medical professionals and social workers to calls involving mental health issues.

But Stanak also acknowledged that the "P" next to her name could be a scarlet letter when it comes to public safety matters. Some residents have blamed the city's uptick in crime and disorder on Progressives, who led a June 2020 vote to reduce police staffing through attrition. Democrats have leveraged that sentiment to take a plurality on the city council.

Mulvaney-Stanak said she doesn't know how she would have voted in 2020 but said the city has "learned a lot" since then. She said she wants to collaborate and "step away from partisanship" in future discussions about public safety.
Her platform also includes making Burlington more affordable, and she floated basing the municipal property tax on income instead of home value. She also pledged to enforce Burlington's short-term rental ordinance and wants to bolster local public transit.

Mulvaney-Stanak is married to Megan Moir, the water resources division director for the City of Burlington. They have two young kids, both of whom attended Monday's announcement.

Many longtime Progs showed up for Mulvaney-Stanak, including former state reps Selene Colburn and Diana Gonzalez and current rep Troy Headrick (P/D-Burlington). All toted Mulvaney-Stanak's blue-and-yellow campaign signs. Also there were Progressive city councilors, including Gene Bergman (P-Ward 2), who stood behind Mulvaney-Stanak as she announced her bid.

Bergman wouldn't say if he'd vote for Mulvaney-Stanak in the Progressive caucus, assuming others jump in the race. But he said he appreciates that her platform includes climate policy, a topic he called his "personal priority at the council." He also thinks Mulvaney-Stanak has wide appeal in Burlington, including in the New North End — a more conservative area and key demographic to winning the mayor's race. Mulvaney-Stanak's House district includes a portion of that neighborhood.

"That's really significant," Bergman said. "I'm pretty excited about the whole thing."

Before Monday's announcement, Vermont Progressive Party executive director Josh Wronski said he hadn’t heard of any other “serious” Prog candidates. But he noted that the campaign season is just beginning: Progressive hopefuls for the 2021 mayor’s race didn’t announce until November.

The Progs haven't yet scheduled a nominating caucus, but the Dems have — for Sunday, December 10, according to party chair Adam Roof. Hours after Mulvaney-Stanak's event on Monday, the party issued a press release saying they're prepared, organized and ready to win.

"Burlington faces many challenges, and Democrats at City Hall are committed to and capable of addressing them," the press release says. "We are not a party of platitudes or performance politics. We are the party of bold ideas, thoughtful action, and responsible governance."

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