Queen of the City: Mulvaney-Stanak Sworn In as Burlington Mayor | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Queen of the City: Mulvaney-Stanak Sworn In as Burlington Mayor


Published April 1, 2024 at 8:02 p.m.

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak takes the oath of office - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Emma Mulvaney-Stanak takes the oath of office
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak made history on Monday night when she was sworn in as the first woman and openly queer person to serve as Burlington’s mayor.

Mulvaney-Stanak is also the first Progressive to hold the office in more than a decade. Outgoing mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, had served since 2012.

Holding hands with her young kids, Mulvaney-Stanak strode into a standing-room-only city hall auditorium to thunderous applause. Her wife, Megan Moir, the city's water resources division director, smiled widely as Mulvaney-Stanak shook hands with Weinberger, former mayor Peter Clavelle and retired U.S. senator Patrick Leahy, who sat in the front row.

Attorney General Charity Clark, who read the oath of office, hyped up the crowd. "You all came to be part of history," said Clark, who herself made history as the first woman elected to her role.

Mulvaney-Stanak's State of the City speech foreshadowed the challenges ahead: addressing homelessness and addiction at a time when the city is strapped for cash. But the 20-minute speech struck the optimistic tone of someone who sees long-standing problems as opportunities for change, not as dead ends.

“These challenges, while complex, are not insurmountable,” Mulvaney-Stanak said. “Through thoughtful engagement and collaboration, I’m confident that we can work together to find solutions that make Burlington a vibrant and resilient community for all of our neighbors for years to come.”

Mulvaney-Stanak’s address, which was translated into sign language, touched on points familiar to anyone who listened to her campaign speeches. She pledged to build more housing, including homeless shelters, and to lobby for a bill that would allow an overdose-prevention center to open in Burlington. She said she favors a “right-sized” police department that includes sworn officers and social workers.
Mayor Mulvaney-Stanak swearing in new councilors - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Mayor Mulvaney-Stanak swearing in new councilors
Some of this work has already started, Mulvaney-Stanak said. She’s formed a “coalition of advisers” and plans to soon hire a special assistant for community safety to coordinate the city’s fragmented response to overdoses, mental health crises and crime.

Mulvaney-Stanak said she’d continue some Weinberger-era efforts, such as CommunityStat, a data-sharing initiative that tracks the city's response to the drug crisis, and the Burlington Fire Department’s Community Response Team, which dispatches EMTs to suspected overdose calls. She recognized the strain that public safety issues put on city staff and pledged “to add new mental health and harm-reduction capacity to our community safety system.”

The city’s $9 million budget shortfall may make that work harder, however. The deficit must be closed before July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Mulvaney-Stanak said she has a team of advisers, including former elected officials with financial experience, to help balance the budget.

“We will be asked to make courageous and difficult decisions,” she said. “Together with department heads and city staff, I will work diligently to build a budget that maintains the level of service that residents, businesses and visitors expect and deserve, while also doing everything possible to minimize the impact on working people.”
The speech, which touched on the climate crisis and racial justice, was also peppered with lighter moments. Mulvaney-Stanak gave a shout-out to Champlain Elementary School students in the audience, re-upping her campaign promise to them to clean up graffiti and garbage. She thanked her friends and family, with a special message for her son, who sat on Moir's lap clutching a giant dinosaur stuffed animal.

“Elliot, thank you for not wearing pajamas tonight,” Mulvaney-Stanak said to laughter. “Your mom really appreciates it.”

Monday’s meeting also saw the swearing-in of eight city councilors, five of them new to the body: Progressives Carter Neubieser (Ward 1), Joe Kane (Ward 3) and Marek Broderick (Ward 8), and Democrats Becca Brown McKnight (Ward 6) and Evan Litwin (Ward 7). Joining them were incumbent councilors Gene Bergman (P-Ward 2), Sarah Carpenter (D-Ward 4) and Ben Traverse (D-Ward 5), all of whom were reelected on Town Meeting Day.

All but Litwin, who wasn't present and took the oath of office via Zoom, stood in front of council tables that were decorated with vases of tulips from a local farm. Behind them, the city seal was projected on a large screen.
City Council President Ben Traverse - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • City Council President Ben Traverse
Traverse was voted the new city council president, replacing fellow Democrat Karen Paul, who got a standing ovation when he recognized her in the crowd. Only councilors Kane and Melo Grant (P-Central District) voted against his nomination.

Traverse pledged to be transparent and to collaborate with councilors. He also recognized the night's momentous occasion, speaking directly to Mulvaney-Stanak.

"Thousands of Burlingtonians, your daughter, my daughters, now see themselves in city hall in a way they never had before," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Mulvaney-Stanak announced her staff. Erin Jacobsen, Mulvaney-Stanak’s campaign treasurer, was elevated to chief of staff. Jacobsen most recently served as a senior assistant state attorney general.

Joe Magee, a former Progressive city councilor whose term ended on Monday, will serve as Mulvaney-Stanak's communications director. Emma Allen, who worked as Weinberger’s administrative assistant, will continue in that role under Mulvaney-Stanak.

Correction, April 1, 2024: A previous version misreported how Clark made history. She was the first woman elected AG, not the first to serve as one.

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