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Vermonters vote on budgets, ballot questions and local officials on Town Meeting Day

Vermont road sign photoshopped for Town Meeting Day
photo of road sign by Pat Bradley
Vermont road sign photoshopped for Town Meeting Day

Voters across Vermont elected local officials and decided a number of ballot and budget issues on Tuesday. WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reviews a few of the Town Meeting Day results.

The city of Rutland will have a new mayor following Town Meeting Day voting. Board of Alderman chair Mike Doenges beat three-term Mayor David Allaire 57 to 43 percent. Doenges had campaigned on issues of public safety, housing and population decline and outlined a comprehensive plan for infrastructure, city operations and growth, quality of life and tourism.

In nearby Killington voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin a $47 million TIF bond to begin work on a municipal water, road reconstruction and workforce housing project. The town does not have a municipal water system and one goal of the project is to bring clean water to homes and businesses contaminated by PFOAs.

In Winooski two city council seats were open and two candidates were running. With the election of Charles Judge and Bryn Oakleaf the four-member Winooski council is the first in Vermont and the second city in the nation to be all-LGBTQ.

In Burlington there were a number of ballot questions. The 2024 school budget and implementation of a carbon fee for new large commercial and industrial buildings were approved. There were two controversial charter change questions placed on the ballot through a citizen petition process and both were rejected by city voters. Question 7, an effort to create an independent control board to oversee the police department, failed 6,653 to 3,864. Question 8, a charter change giving citizens greater powers to initiate non-binding ballot questions and binding initiatives and ordinances, was closer but failed with 4,787 yes votes and 5,366 no votes.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, had campaigned against the two petitioned questions.

“These were decisive results that I think make it clear that the people understand that police accountability is important but that proposal was not the right way to achieve it. And I think as a result of that we will now continue the work that we’ve been doing since really 2016 to strengthen, refine, clarify how our existing police oversight board, the Police Commission, how that should work and how that will properly work. And I think voters got it right with Question 8 as well. We had an eight question ballot this year and there’s already a great deal of direct democracy in our system. I think voters got it right to say we shouldn’t go further than our current system, let’s keep the current system.”

Progressive Melo Grant was elected to represent the Central District. She supported the citizen police oversight board and said the voting should be a wake-up call to city officials.

“Ballot number 7 came out of a vacuum of leadership. City council did nothing. And then suddenly they were surprised that the citizens of Burlington went around them! You act like you didn’t know where it came from. These people had a website. They got thousands of signatures – not once – but twice. It was based on something that was previously passed by the city council and then the mayor vetoed it. If you don’t deal with it, it’s not going to go away.”

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