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Davis to Seek Burlington City Council Presidency


Published March 20, 2009 at 11:11 a.m.

As the Burlington City Council wraps up its work for the year for the session and says goodbye to five members, including current City Council President Kurt Wright (R-Ward 4), there is increasing talk of who will wield the gavel come April.

Last night, Councilor Clarence Davis (P-Ward 3) announced to existing and new members of the council that he will seek the the post.

Davis said he made his decision after consulting with many of the current councilors, as well as past presidents. Outgoing president Wright has said Davis would make a good leader of the council.

"Over the past three years I feel that I have clearly demonstrated that I am a fair, even-tempered, practical minded individual who has the best interests of the city at heart," wrote Davis in an email to councilors new and current. "I have proven my ability to organize a complex committee and move it to a more streamlined and functional level."

In recent weeks, tensions have run high on the council, and led to police being called to a meeting last Thursday.

Davis said he would work to avoid these tensions.

"If elected as president I will continue to be fair, open-minded and organized in my approach to the council," Davis notes. "Due to the events of the past few weeks I know that tensions are running high and the Council now more than ever needs a president that will be:

· Fair in their dealings with members of the council regardless of political affiliation.
· Organized and engaged in the agenda setting and facilitation process.
· Accountable for items referred to committees as well as deadlines for reports back from the administration and committee chairs.
· Knowledgeable about the rules that govern our body and able to abide by, and, when needed, to enforce those rules even in difficult circumstances."

To date no other councilors have come forward formally to announce their candidacy, but if Democrats have an eight-member caucus (constituting an outright majority on the 14-member council) it's possible they could elect one of their own.

As I noted in this week's "Fair Game" a runoff election in Ward 7 between Democrat Eli Lesser-Goldsmith and Republican Vince Dober will determine the ultimate makeup of the council.

One Democrat whose name has surfaced as a possible candidate for president is Ward 1 Councilor Ed Adrian.

Contacted this morning, Adrian said he's focused on finishing up some of the work of the current council, including soliciting more input on some changes to the city's zoning ordinances related to downtown building heights. A special public hearing is scheduled for Monday to let the public weigh in on allowing some commercial buildings to top 115 feet.

"Once this council is over, my efforts will be focused on the next," Adrian said. "I think it's a little early for people to be throwing their names in the ring when they don't know the makeup of the next city council."