Vermont voters will choose local races in communities across the state on Town Meeting Day, March 3rd. In Burlington, several candidates have already announced their plans to run for mayor. Two people are seeking the Progressive Party nomination. Ward 3 City Councilor Brian Pine officially announced his campaign earlier this month, while City Council President Max Tracy is also seeking the Progressive nod. Tracy tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley the city of Burlington needs to move in a different direction.
"When I think about running for mayor I think about the need to build a more just and equitable city. New leadership is needed to not only get us through this pandemic and make sure that we are coming out on the other side with a city that really leaves no one behind."
Bradley: "What draws you to the Progressive Party and why do you think voters in Burlington are willing at this point to have a Progressive mayor?"
Max Tracy: "I think people are drawn in by the work that we've done around economic, social and racial justice, and they see us as being uncompromising when it comes to our core values of equity and justice. And that really resonates with people especially in amoment where we see so many of the issues that existed before the pandemic being laid that much more bare by nature of the pandemic. Things like, you know, economic and racial inequality and really needing to make sure that we're providing an alternate vision to whatwe're currently seeing which is very lukewarm and moderate."
Bradley: "How do you plan to appeal to Democrats and Republicans that may say the party is too progressive, for example being too lenient with the protesters in Battery Park that were there for part of the summer?"
Tracy: "Well, you know, I'm not sure that I'm gonna win over too many Republicans and that's okay. We see things very differently.But I think that in terms of the Democrats, I think that there is even among Democrats a strong feeling of, you know, dissatisfaction with Miro or at least just fatigue around Miro. You know they've been behind him for so long and I think that there's a desire for newleadership there even among Democrats. You know also another key piece is that we need to continue our focus specifically on uprooting systemic racism in Burlington and I think that there's broad support for that work especially the work that goes beyond just the policetransformation piece which, again is crucial. But you know, I think there's also a lot of work that's happening around economic and cultural empowerment that has broad support. And I think we need to forward that work in a really concerted fashion. But I think thatthere's also sort of a need to make sure that folks know that we're going to continue to deliver strong city services and make sure that their neighborhoods will be taken care of on a just a basic level, you know, that the streets will be plowed, you know, those kinds of things that people depend on to keep the city moving will continue to happen under a progressive administration."
Pat Bradley: "You're touching on some of the other aspects of this. The Progressives talk a lot about the social justice aspects of theirpolicies. What about the brass tacks fiscal priorities that need to be addressed?"
Max Tracy: "Certainly. Well, I mean, I think that we need to make sure that we're doing everything we can to keep city finances in order and keep our eye on the ball on that. I think that the council has been a strong partner in that work for the last, you know, eight years and has been a key element of bringing us back from the financial mess that we were in when I first got on the council and you know I think that we've had, we've made some really solid decisions."
Bradley: "How much have you learned about government and city operations having sat on the city council for a while now?"
Tracy: "I mean I've been deeply involved with so many facets of city government having been on for the last eight years, and I'm in year nine now, serving on many committees, developing relationships, you know, not only with department heads, but with the folks that do the work day in and day out to keep the city moving. And so I feel like I have a strong sense of how things like the city budgets work, how things like our public works department works, just how these functional elements of the city move forward. And so, you know, I think I have a strong base of experience from that and from having been so heavily involved for the last eight years."
Bradley: "Max, if you do not get the Progressive nomination, would you run for mayor as an independent or under any other party banner?"
Max Tracy: "No. I'll respect the results of the caucus. I'm a true Progressive. I guess the way I would say it is that, you know, I haven't spent the last 15 years trying to build the Progressive Party in Burlington to then go around the will of the voters of the Burlington Progressive Party."
Burlington Progressives will caucus on December 1st to choose their candidates for city races. Ward 3 Councilor Brian Pine is also seeking the party nomination for mayor. Incumbent Democrat Miro Weinberger announced on November 10th that he would seek a fourth three-year term and Independent Ward 7 Councilor Ali Dieng is also running for mayor. For more coverage of the race, go to wamc.org.