After reading Kevin Picard’s thorough profile of Andy Montroll [“Detail Man,” February 11], I wanted to remind folks that, though Andy may be quiet, he is a passionate and proven leader. Andy has been involved with city issues for many years and understands what it takes to get things done. He listens before he speaks, yet he has definite ideas about our beautiful city. The current administration is complacent. Struggling through these economic times, we need someone who can be tougher on city pensions, actively promote Burlington as a place full of small businesses, and follow through with the waterfront development to insure that it is a space that we all can enjoy. Andy knows how to fix the congestion on Main Street and provide Burlington Telecom to all of downtown’s businesses. Andy would also like to see an open dialogue between city government and the school system. Andy is what we need for Burlington.
In your recent article [“Right as Wright,” February 4] I couldn’t help but notice Kurt Wright’s comments in response to not taking Vote Smart’s political courage test. Wright may feel that he’d rather go door-to-door answering voters’ questions than answering a “survey that comes in the mail,” but for young voters like myself, the Internet is often our go-to source for information on a candidate’s record and opinions. While Wright has a Facebook page, it’s bare bones at best (no information on his positions), and although he has a web page, his summary of his positions are — perhaps expectably — vague. He says he will “work with Burlington’s educational institutions to help them thrive, and to expand student housing options” — how? For which schools? UVM? Champlain? CCV? All of the above? Besides, even if Wright’s personal homepage was crystal clear in his policy plans, project Vote Smart is a valuable website for young people like myself who want a comparatively unbiased look at a candidate’s positions through a Google search. Although looking at a local paper is, of course, ideal, sometimes online papers are hard to look through to find relevant results, especially when the information is often only available for a month or two before asking the reader to pay for the article.
WHERE’S THE PASSION?
Is anyone else wondering where the passion is in Burlington’s mayoral race? It’s true that the loudest voice in the room, or the most charismatic personality, is not always the one we should be listening to, but a little volume now and then might indicate the emotional importance of this election. It might even tip us off to the significance the candidates place on certain issues. For example, the city’s current pension plan, adopted under Mayor Clavelle’s administration, was in crisis mode at the beginning of the Kiss administration, when it was under-funded to the tune of $30 million. Although Ken Picard neglects to mention this in his article on Andy Montroll [“Detail Man,” February 11], Andy is the only candidate who has had the courage to tell us the city plan is in a much deeper hole now (probably closer to $60 million), and that it was a mistake for the city to adopt it in its current form. So far, the candidates haven’t said boo about what emergency fiscal measures they might undertake if the city’s revenue forecasts turn out to be way off the mark. And that’s a real possibility as the world financial crisis continues to deepen. It’s time to raise the temperature of this debate. These are extraordinary times, and we still have no understanding from any of the candidates of what extraordinary measures are available to the city to meet the challenges ahead.
WRIGHT IS WRONG
I am following Burlington’s mayoral race closely and am increasingly concerned about Republican Kurt Wright’s stealth candidacy. As recently reported in the Burlington Free Press, Wright declined to take a position on whether he supported gay marriage or not. (Bob Kiss, Andy Montroll and Dan Smith said they did). The BFP reported that Wright said: “That is not a yes or no question.” Huh? While Wright may want to dodge this issue in debates, he cannot escape his record in the Vermont Legislature. Along with 68 other right-wing members of Vermont’s House of Representatives, Wright did sign onto an anti-gay friend of the court brief in a Georgia child-custody case involving the legal recognition of civil unions outside of Vermont. (Wright did not want the Georgia court to recognize the civil union). Not surprisingly, Wright also did not cosponsor marriage-equality legislation recently introduced in Vermont’s House of Representatives. I think this helps shed light on his animus toward Vermont’s GLBTQ community. Kurt Wright is wrong for Vermont and wrong for Burlington.
(Editor’s Note: The Burlington Free Press story referenced above was a report on a mayor debate organized and moderated by Seven Days on February 4 at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Political columnist Shay Totten posed the yes-no question about same-sex marriage. Click here to watch the debate.)
ADDENDUM: Seven Days received so many letters regarding the Burlington Mayoral election that we are publishing the following, web-exclusive missives.
MAKE IT MONTROLL
Andy Montroll's quiet demeanor belies the passion he has for our great city ["Detail Man," February 11]. For the last 20 years he has been involved in meaningful work on our behalf. During his long tenure of service on the city council, Andy has worked hard to ensure that Burlington is a welcoming place for families, young working people, college students and retirees. He supports strong schools where all our children receive an excellent education that prepares them for the world of tomorrow. He is committed to building strong neighborhoods where people feel safe and can enjoy a quiet night's rest. He has advocated for rental housing that is safe, livable and affordable. And he has supported initiatives to maintain the beautiful parks we are so fortunate to have and to keep them affordable for all of us to enjoy.
Andy advocates for vigorous economic development. He has supported initiatives to maintain and bring jobs into Burlington that pay livable wages. He has sponsored the removal of several taxes to make our city more business friendly. He is committed to fostering more responsible business development to increase our grand list. He was one of the original proponents of Burlington Telecom and now offers an innovative proposal to make Burlington energy independent.
Since he's been my city councilor for the past 14 years, I can attest to Andy's ability to listen, to resolve concerns with city issues and to be accessible to his constituents. Andy Montroll has the zeal, the experience and the vision to be a great mayor of Burlington.
Please vote for Andy on Tuesday, March 3.
Rep. Johannah Leddy Donovan
Donovan represents Chittenden 3-5 in the Vermont House.
IN ANDY'S HANDS
Please join me in supporting Andy Montroll for mayor in the upcoming Town Meeting Day election on March 3 ["Detail Man," February 11]. We face dual crises on a global scale that are being felt right here in Burlington: steep economic downturn and a rapidly changing climate. In this vein, it is important that our mayor stand strong for what is important: creating job opportunities for those at the back of the hiring line while reducing Burlington's carbon footprint.
Andy's vision for a renewable energy future for our Queen City resonates with me, as the policy team leader for Burlington's Climate Action Plan and a member of the Environment and Energy Coordinating Committee. He has the leadership and experience to expand our local alternative energy infrastructure and to put people to work in household energy efficiency, on-site installation and weatherization. I am glad I have the opportunity to vote for someone whose has served as an engineer, attorney, four-time city council president, and member of the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization. This has been an exciting and dynamic mayoral race; now let's put our city in the best hands possible by voting Andy Montroll.
Rep. Kesha Ram
Ram represents Chittenden District 3-4 in the Vermont House.
KISS IS COOL
As a recent newcomer to Burlington, I have been impressed with the city. Compared with most urban areas, I have found this city to be ahead of others in many areas. Due to the impressive qualities of this city, I have been volunteering for Mayor Kiss ["Kiss and Tell," January 28]. In that capacity I overheard another volunteer tell a voter that Mayor Kiss has been riding his bike to work for years.
Maybe it's because I was raised in an area filled with SUVs and Hummers - even though most needs were within walking distance. Or maybe because most people there only think about environmental responsibility for about a week after it's mentioned on "Oprah," but hearing this really struck me. The idea of a politician actually practicing what he preaches as well as working to reduce the city's negative impacts on the environment is a quality in Mayor Kiss that I find admirable and inspirational.
Obviously, Burlington is not considered one of the greenest cities in the country simply because our mayor rides his bike to work, but his leadership represents the direction we as a community are moving towards in the future. Over the past three years, Mayor Kiss has launched initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases on the household level, developed methods of financing energy-efficiency improvements and alternative-energy projects, and started bonds to acquire clean, renewable energy sources.
I am hopeful that those who live in our great, green city will recognize the positive steps Mayor Kiss has taken for us in regards to the environment and elsewhere on March 3.
MOVING FORWARD - WITH KISS
With all the attention and effort that went into the presidential race, it's no wonder people may be exhausted with politics. But the last time we got complacent in Burlington, some catchy slogans caught on and set us way back.
Maintaining and in fact growing a strong Burlington economy in these times has not been an accident, and it's surely not the result of easy political sloganeering. It takes intense, competent work, like that of the team Bob Kiss has in City Hall ["Kiss and Tell," January 28].
The last time we simply assumed Burlington would move forward, we slid backwards for two years. If we had not gotten back on track, we'd now have no electric utility of our own, no high-speed telecom of our own, and the other engines that drive our economy even while the rest of the state has receded. And that was during good times. In today's economy, there is no coasting on momentum. Only a sustained drive will keep us moving forward, and Bob Kiss has proven that he can continue to make it happen.
KISS QUIET BUT EFFECTIVE
Ken Picard offered a complete run down on the Burlington mayoral candidates ["Kiss and Tell," January 28; "Right as Wright," February 4; "Detail Man," February 11; "Dan with a Plan," February 18]. While every candidate has a great deal to offer, I feel Bob Kiss offers Burlington what it needs. "Burlington is open for business but not for sale" speaks volumes in a typically understated Kiss manner. We have an economically vibrant downtown, and the Kiss administration continues to support its responsible growth. Looking at the expansion through the years of the farmer-artist market in the summer and the ongoing interest of national retailers such as Urban Outfitters, it is clear that Burlington remains an attractive place to do business - even in a toughening economy.
Bob's ideas for the waterfront support growth of this valuable resource without losing sight of the critical importance of doing so with environmental integrity. With all the growth and future planning his administration is working on, it's important to note that he's also held the line on taxes as well as worked to improve resources for Burlington's less fortunate.
For those critics who argue that we need radical change, I would counter that the sort of measured growth with fiscal responsibility offered by the current administration is exactly the sort of steady approach to city government that we need. He may be soft spoken but his passion for Burlington is resoundingly evident in the results his administration has already achieved. I look forward to what three more years of Bob Kiss will do for America's healthiest city!
KISS UNDERSTANDS COMMUNITY
I happened to stop by the "Combat Paper" gallery opening at Burlington City Arts Firehouse Gallery last Friday night, and I was amazed by the hundreds of people who turned out, including many young people looking at and talking about the fascinating images and sculptures by returned U.S. soldiers from their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why was I amazed? Because of the vitality of the city and its thriving arts scene. And because more than any other city in northern New England, Burlington puts is money where its mouth is - and actively supports the arts and all they contribute to community and economic life.
I don't live in Burlington - so I can't vote. But Mayor Bob Kiss and several generations of Progressive mayors deserve lots of credit for investing in the ongoing development of a community that knows the arts and culture - in theaters, schools, galleries, Battery Park concerts, festivals, clubs, studio space, kids' workshops and on the streets. Bravo!
CORRECTIONS: In last week’s article “Granville Filmmaker Celebrates 99-Year-Old Activist,” we incorrectly cited a Seven Days article as the inspiration for filmmaker Larry Holden’s documentary. In fact, Holden volunteers at the Park House, where activist Marion Leonard lives, and came up with the concept on his own. We apologize for the misunderstanding.