New Burlington, Vermont City Council holds organizational meeting and mayor delivers state of the city address

The City Council of Burlington, Vermont, held its organizational meeting Monday night. New councilors were sworn in and the mayor delivered his state of the city address.

Eight of Burlington City Council’s 12 councilors were elected or re-elected on the day of the March 3 city meeting. Among Monday’s first orders of business was their swearing-in by Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger for the fourth term.

“I would like to invite the eight newly elected city councilors to come and introduce themselves here and we will all swear to you together,” the mayor said. “Raise your right hand and repeat after me: Under penalty of perjury, I declare your name, solemnly swear, and affirm that I will faithfully perform the duties of alderman to the best of my judgment and ability, according to law. Congratulations .

Weinberger then took to the podium to deliver his State of the City address. It was the first in person in two years.

“The past two years have set us back in many critical areas,” Weinberger said. “We’re going to have to earn our way to the general prosperity that much of this community enjoyed before the pandemic.”

Weinberger focused his speech on economic recovery, infrastructure, children and families, racial justice and equity, the climate emergency, housing and public safety.

To help with economic recovery, he said it was time to make permanent an initiative to help businesses that began during the pandemic.

“The budget that I present to you in June will formalize the small ad hoc economic recovery team that we have had for the past two years in a new municipal service,” the mayor said. “And this new service will continue to provide critical direct services support.”

The city’s Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging recently lost its director and several staff. Weinberger pledged to maintain funding for the department at 2022 levels despite planned cuts in the upcoming city budget.

“With these resources and a rebuilt team, we will continue to reshape Burlington city government into an anti-racism organization, invest and innovate to eliminate racial disparities in homeownership rates, and mount a sustained, multi-partner effort. to eradicate racial disparities across the social determinants of health,” Weinberger said.

Regarding public safety, the mayor said there are two actions he will ask the city council to approve.

“Chief Murad and I will come to council next month with a rebuilding plan to bring the department back to the staffing levels we need,” the mayor explained. “Secondly, we need to continue to build the community support liaison program. This three-person team is working very well and should grow further.

Weinberger concluded by saying that Burlington is doing the necessary work despite the challenges.

“Despite the incredible challenges of the past two years, the state of our city remains strong and it grows stronger every day as we work to recover from the setbacks of the pandemic,” he said.

Following the speech, the council elected a new president. Former Progressive President Max Tracy did not run for office. Democrat Karen Paul was the lone nominee and was unanimously endorsed by her fellow advisers.

“Each of us is absolutely at our best when there’s mutual respect,” Paul said. “We can disagree and we all know we won’t agree. We can be respectful at the same time. I will do my best to value each of your voices. I will do my best to be fair I look forward to a productive year as I know you all are and continue to improve our beloved city.

Progressives hold a plurality of six seats on the 12-member Burlington City Council.

Aubrey L. Morgan