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What's On Burlington's Town Meeting Day Ballot?

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Bayla Metzger / VPR
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Reporter Katie Jickling covers Burlington for Seven Days. She spoke to VPR about what's in store for Burlington voters at the 2019 Town Meeting Day.

Town Meeting Day is coming up on Tuesday, March 5th. In the lead up, we're examining issues around the state. Seven Days reporter Katie Jickling weighed in on what's in store for Burlington voters.

There are four city council seats up for election in Burlington, said Jickling, and the Progressive party is pushing hard for all of them.

In the North District, historically the city’s most conservative district, the Progressives have endorsed Kienan Christianson, who is running as an Independent. The Progressives are hoping this election gives them a voice in a new territory, said Jickling, as well as expands their power on the City Council.

“(The Progressives) hope that this will be part of a push to have more power against Miro Weinberger, who’s a Democrat, and really push a more liberal-progressive agenda,” said Jickling.

In the Central District, there was some shuffling of party affiliation: incumbent Jane Knodell is running as an Independent after the Progressive party backed a younger candidate, Perri Freeman.

Jickling told VPR it’s an example of the Progressive party telling it's old guard that it isn’t pushing hard enough on issues of affordability and serving the working people.

In Burlington's South District race, Progressive Mohammed Jafar and Independent Paco DeFrancis are challenging incumbent Democrat Joan Shannon. Jafar’s candidacy hit a bump recently, Jickling said, when VTDigger.org published a story about a series of misogynistic tweets sent by the candidate a few years back. The Progressive party continues to back the 22-year-old candidate.

Burlington voters will also have some ballot questions to weigh in on as part of the 2019 Town Meeting Day. Jickling said the most controversial question on the ballot is about expanding the city's Downtown Improvement District from the businesses on Church Street to include 38 blocks all over downtown.

Opponents worry that the expansion will increase rents downtown, said Jickling, or that it could displace people who are not business owners.

Burlington voters will also see an advisory question on the ballot question asking whether they support a ban on single-use plastics, including bags, straws, and Styrofoam takeout food containers.

“Depending on how Burlington votes on this, it could create some momentum around this issue to have other towns, and potentially the state, move forward (with a similar ban),” said Jickling.

Similar single-use plastics bans have been proposed in other Vermont towns, including Brattleboro and Montpelier.

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