Burlington Mayor Delivers State Of The City Address Focused On Racial Equity Efforts
On Town Meeting Day, Burlington, Vermont voters elected one new city councilor and re-elected three councilors and the mayor. They were sworn in Monday and the mayor delivered his state of the city address, which focused on racial justice efforts.
The first item on the Burlington City Council’s organization day agenda tasked city attorney Eileen Blackwood with swearing in Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger to his fourth three-year term. “Mr. Weinberger would you please rise and raise your right hand?”
Weinberger: “Under the pains and penalties of perjury I Miro Weinberger do solemnly swear and affirm that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of mayor to the best of my judgement and abilities according to law.”
Blackwood: “Thank you Mr. Mayor. You are sworn in.”
Mayor Weinberger then swore in as a group re-elected Progressives Jack Hanson and Perri Freeman and Democrat Joan Shannon and newly elected Independent Mark Barlow to their two-year terms on the city council. “I state your name.”
Councilors: “I Mark Barlow, Perri Freeman, I Jack Hanson 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 completed Mayor Weinberger delivered his State of the City address. He first acknowledged the work done by city workers, officials and residents over the past year to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I delivered this annual address last year, we were in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic and I declared that the State of the City was a state of emergency," the mayor said. "Today, one year later, we are in a dramatically different place. City government already has already begun to plan for the key pillars of our work ahead. For all these reasons and more the State of the City is one of great hope.”
Weinberger focused the remainder of his speech on racial justice efforts.
“We must acknowledge that racial justice is our most pressing emergency and our hardest challenge," Weinberger said. "For centuries, policies and practices in this country explicitly discriminated on the basis of race. These policies created vast and enduring harm. We are going to need to use strategies that are also race-based to address that harm. When we do that all Burlingtonians, not just Black and brown residents, will benefit.”
Weinberger said past racial justice and equity efforts by his administration have been inadequate.
“Further in recent weeks I have caused harm to the Black community in Burlington and particularly to Black women in Burlington," he said. "And for that I am truly sorry. I am seeking to learn to make racial justice central to the work of local government and to become an anti-racist leader who identifies racism and works to dismantle it.”
Burlington’s mayor outlined a series of initiatives including forthcoming efforts to strengthen the city’s Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Department.
“As part of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, I will be bringing a proposal to substantially increase the size of the REIB Department," the mayor said. "Over the next year the city will also pursue three major initiatives to promote a greater sense of belonging here in Burlington. The first of these initiatives will be to sponsor the city’s first annual Juneteenth celebration. The second increasing Black homeownership. We will hold another Housing Summit. Our goal coming out of this summit will be to deliver to the city council by this fall an actionable plan to eliminate the disparity in homeownership among Black Burlingtonians. And over the next year we must continue to grapple with overcoming the history of racial injustice in law enforcement.”
Progressive Ward 2 councilor Max Tracy, who nearly defeated Weinberger in the race for mayor in March, was chosen unanimously to serve as City Council President for a second time.