Nearly one month after Town Meeting Day, the Burlington City Council met last night to swear-in the mayor and council to new terms and hear the State of the City address.
With past mayors, family members and Vermont Governor Phil Scott looking on, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan read the oath of office to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat. “I Miro Weinberger do solemnly swear and affirm that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of mayor."
Donovan: "To the best of my judgement and ability according to to law."
Weinberger: "To the best of my judgement and ability according to law."
The first act of Weinberger’s third term was to immediately swear in the city council members to their terms. “I’d like to ask the eight councilors who were just elected to this body to join me in the center of the circle here. So raise your right hand. I state your name."
Councilors: "I (Kurt Wright/Sharon Bushor/Chip Mason/Max Tracy/Karen Paul/Brian Pine/Ali Dieng/Adam Roof) do solemnly swear and affirm that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of city councilor to the best of my judgement and ability according to law."
Once those formalities were over, Mayor Weinberger presented his seventh State of the City address. "I’m very grateful to the people of Burlington for the chance tonight to take the oath of office for a third time. I will work very hard over the next three years to make good on the trust you have placed in me. I would like to start my report on the State of the City with some great news. The asphalt plants are about to open! (Laughter) The fact that we will be able to respond to a difficult winter so quickly and comprehensively is a function of our growing strength as a city in the areas that we have focused on together for the last six years: municipal finances, downtown economic development, improving the city’s core infrastructure that supports our quality of life and economy.”
Mayor Weinberger cited successful credit rating upgrades for the city, investments in infrastructure and downtown development. But he noted that work “towards a more just future” must continue. During his third three-year term, Weinberger plans to focus on five areas. “In 2018, the State of the City of Burlington is very strong and it will grow even stronger in the years ahead as we work to ensure that all of our residents benefit from our recent progress and have a voice in the future direction. Though we have much to be proud of as a community, we still have much work to do to become the welcoming, equitable, and sustainable city we aspire to be. Over the next year, that work will include progress and new efforts in five areas: collecting and analyzing data on city equity initiatives; working to turn the tide of the opioid crisis; continuing to build our Early Learning Initiative; taking our next steps towards becoming a net zero energy city; and strengthening our public engagement efforts.”
Weinberger then detailed each theme, spending the most time on how the city hopes to contend with the opioid crisis including access to medication. “Burlington is proposing that we move towards having a system where a health professional prescribes methadone or buprenorphine to opioid addicted patients at the time patients are ready to start treatment. That’s not the system we have today. Currently patients often have to wait an average of 17 days between their request for treatment and when they first receive a prescription from the hub in Chittenden County. This approach is guided by the emerging, hopeful body of evidence that rapid access to medications saves lives.”
Following the mayor’s speech the city council elected a new president. Outgoing president Jane Knodell decided not to serve in that position for another term and nominated Kurt Wright, the only Republican on the panel. He was accepted on a unanimous voice vote and he made a promise to his fellow councilors. “No Republican colleague on the council will get any special privilege from me. (Laughter) With that I look forward Mayor Weinberger to working together with you on the many initiatives that you just outlined for us and working together with all councilors in a cooperative and collaborative spirit. And let’s make it a great year.”
There is one new member of the Burlington City Council this term. Progressive Brian Pine returns to represent Ward 3. He last served on the council in 1995.
Audio is courtesy of Channel 17 Town Meeting Television.