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Vermont Progressive Party Chair Steps Down

The woman who has led the Vermont Progressive Party for the past four years announced Friday that she had stepped down.
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak began her political career as a city councilor in Burlington and was first elected state chair of the Progressive Party in 2014.  But last Friday she announced that she was stepping down.  She says it was just too difficult to juggle the chair position and her full-time job as a labor organizer.   “My day job is a very time demanding job even in a non-political crisis year. But what’s happening in Vermont right now related to collective bargaining rights under Governor Scott as well the changes to the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, in the world of public education has really bottlenecked a lot of bargaining.  And my job as an organizer is to help members when bargaining gets tough. And so bargaining is tough at an unprecedented level this year. And it became jut clear to do my day job well and also make sure the party continues to thrive that I just didn’t have the capacity to do both.”

Mulvaney-Stanak says she has meticulously kept her political job separate from her work with labor unions. As she steps down from leading the Progressives, she cites three key accomplishments over her four-year tenure.   “We’ve just had exponential growth in candidates. And not just any candidates but really strong capable Vermonters stepping up and wanting to run as a Progressive. And then last year we got a Lieutenant  Governor elected as a Progressive, David Zuckerman.  I’m tremendously proud of that. And I always said when I ran as state chair that I wanted to get more women elected and running for office. That has proven out to a super-majority of women in the Progressive caucus. The final third piece that I’m proud about is the party has grown in terms of numbers.  We have a lot more young people involved and our finances are strong and stable.  And to me that means that this is a sustainable third party that’s not going anywhere.”

The Progressives have appointed state Senator Anthony Pollina interim chair.  “I knew that Emma was getting busier and busier in her work as an organizer for the teachers’ union. And this year as you may know there’s been a lot of controversy around the potential loss of some collective bargaining rights for teachers. So she’s been pretty busy with that.  So I’m not too surprised that she’s decided this is a good time for her to take a break from the party work.”

Pollina, who was the Progressive candidate for governor in 2000 and 2008, says he’s looking forward to leading the party for a short time.   “I haven’t been as directly involved in the party organization itself for a number of years.  And while I’ve been out serving in the Legislature and doing other things still involved with the party.  The party’s really seen some strong growth in terms of running more candidates and having more success in getting people elected and broadening its base of support across the state.  So I think that the party’s doing well.  It’s strong.  It’s still the strongest third political party anywhere in the country. And I’m really interested in being able to play a role in helping it continue to grow over the next couple of months.”

Although she is stepping down as Progressive chair, Mulvney-Stanak is not disappearing from politics.   “I live and breathe politics. I love politics.  I want to continue to serve in politics in some fashion.  And I do intend to run for something in the near future.  I’m not going away.  I just need to take some time. I have some things in mind but at the same time I have to figure out how the day job shakes out first. But as I mentioned I love politics so it won’t be long. And I’ll sort of have to do an assessment on what seats are open and what seats time wise make the most sense to run for. But I don’t know if that would be local office, going back to city council or other things in city government in Burlington where I live, or something more on the state level.  So we’ll see.”

The Progressives will choose a new chair in September.  

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