March 2018 Burlington Candidates Questionnaire
Rights & Democracy VT endorsement criteria for members to consider:
✓ Will this candidate be a bold, progressive leader? Does their life experience illustrate bold leadership and a commitment to progressive values?
✓ Does this candidate have an effective plan to win? Have they been executing that plan? Can they win?
✓ Does this candidate have an understanding of how to govern and the ability to do so? Is this candidate willing to strategize with Rights & Democracy VT to implement our shared vision?
✓ Are you (and other Rights & Democracy members) excited about supporting this candidate with your time and money?
Questions: There are 12 Yes or No Questions and 14 short answer questions. To “Yes or No questions” please respond: yes, no, maybe, or need more information.
- What do you want to accomplish in your first term? How will you accomplish it, and what group, or groups, aside from RAD, will you work with to make it happen?
My priorities will be to commit Burlington to 100% renewable energy in the next ten years, in heating and transportation, in addition to electricity. I plan to work with grassroots organizers and organizations like Rights and Democracy, 350 Burlington, and Sierra Club Burlington to create significant public pressure on the city council and the mayor’s office to get this passed quickly and without compromise on the timeline. Once passed I will regularly work with the Public Works Department to ensure we are meeting our goals of implementation.
I will also work to pass a citizens civil rights commission to better address the systematic oppression of people of color, new americans, refugees, members of the LGBTQA community, and women.
Affordability – both stabilizing the cost of housing and raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour – is central to our agenda as progressives in the coming years on city council.
Finally I want the community to have a formal role in the budgeting process. Either citizen budget commissions should be formed or we should work within the existing NPA structure to ensure real community input.
Real progressive change has always come from the bottom up. If we are going to be successful in reforming our community we must start by energizing the grassroots in support of our progressive agenda. If I can accomplish those things within my first term I will have deemed it a success.
- What is the core message of your campaign (in three sentences or less)?
Students make up ¼ of Burlington’s population but have no representation in City Government. We want to change that and bring young, progressive voices into the decision-making process. As students living in Burlington, we are concerned about climate change, affordable housing, income and wealth inequality (i.e. raising the minimum wage), racial justice, gender and sexual discrimination, and environmental issues such as keeping Lake Champlain healthy. We believe in creating a government where ordinary people have a seat at the table and are able to participate in decision-making. In Burlington, bringing students to the table is a key piece of that.
- What are the top three issues you’ve been discussing with your constituents?
Climate and Clean Energy, Affordable Housing, and representing the interests of oppressed communities.
- We value close collaboration with our endorsed elected officials. How do you imagine working with Rights & Democracy to make positive change?
I hope to work with Rights and Democracy, student groups, individual activists, and city wide advocacy groups to craft policy, rally the grassroots in support of important legislation, coordinate messaging, and fight unapologetically for progressive values. Grassroots activism and community involvement paired with politicians who are ready to unapologetically stand for progressive ideals is how real progressive change takes place. Without the help of grassroots organizations like RAD our job in passing reform becomes a lot more difficult.
- (Y/N) Do you commit to meeting with Rights & Democracy regularly to discuss our issues and how best to work together to promote the common good? Yes
- Burlington People’s Platform: Leading up to this election cycle RAD members and members of the Burlington community came together to issue this shared statement of values embodied in a People’s Platform. Please review it.
- Which three (3) items most resonate with you and why?
Affordable housing is an issue central to our campaign for city council. While the many in the community are calling for more neoliberal solutions to our housing crisis its clear we have to rally our community in support of housing justice on the local level. I know from my own experience I spent upwards of 50% of my income on housing this summer. It’s time we have bold policy solutions to this problem instead of incremental change at the expense of students and working class families.
Human Rights budgeting is also an extremely important aspect of the People’s Platform. Our city’s budget is a reflection of our morals and priorities as a community. We must work to lift up ALL voices in that process by giving the community a formal say in the budgeting process. I support either empowering the NPA to take part in that process or creating citizen budget commissions as ways to create real community involvement.
Ensuring our community passes a 15$ minimum wage is also of extreme importance to me. Working class families and students who work in Burlington should be able to afford to live in the city as well. Our community can do so much to increase affordability, but it starts with raising wages to 15 dollars an hour.
- Livable Communities: In recent years, Burlington has become less engaged, more expensive, and has shrunk from its days as a vanguard of municipal activism and responsibility to care for all of its residents. Rights & Democracy has put forward a People’s Platform to address these concerns.
- What should Burlington do to provide more safe, affordable, and accessible housing?
We must strengthen our inclusionary zoning rules by increasing the percentage of housing in the city is affordable for everyone. And ‘affordable housing’ must be truly affordable, even for those making minimum wage. In addition, we need to pass a tax on the sale of luxury homes and high end condos and invest that revenue in affordable housing. Finally we have to make clear to UVM’s Administration that it’s housing policies need to change – its no longer acceptable to upcharge students for living on campus. This drives up the entire market, allowing landlords to charge exorbitant prices while still being less expensive than on-campus alternatives. UVM should instead provide additional affordable housing units, including Co-op housing for students, while working to reduce room & board costs.
(Y/N) Do you support participatory Human Rights budgeting – which would provide more democratic input into the city’s budget and budgeting priorities? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support expanding Burlington’s Livable Wage ordinance to cover all workers? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support giving voters a say on whether to privatize public assets like the Moran Plant, Memorial Auditorium, or Burlington Telecom? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support providing universal Early Childhood Education and Care in Burlington? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support increasing funding for early education and k-12 education in Burlington? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support the principles of collective bargaining? Yes – one of the first projects UVM Progressives took part in was getting students down to the picket line for the teachers strike early this year.
- Racial Justice: Racism is a system of privilege and disadvantage based on race that is acted out through individuals, institutions and our cultural ideas. It serves as a divide and conquer strategy that undermines the humanity of people of color in order to keep white communities and communities of color from collaborating for our common interests. A core tenet of RAD’s mission is dismantling structural racism.
- How do you plan to govern to dismantle structural racism in Burlington?
We need to implement a citizen’s civil rights commission to oversee police interactions with marginalized populations within our state and city. In addition we need proper police training around addressing and overcoming internal biases. Elected officials and candidates also have a non-policy related responsibility to counteract racism and all forms of oppression through their rhetoric, conduct, and inclusion of people of color in their messaging, platform, and policy-making. I plan to work directly with racial justice organizations at UVM and in Burlington in order to further develop my racial justice platform and, if elected, promote policies based on these groups’ knowledge and experience.
- (Y/N) Are you willing to commit to attend Structural Oppression Trainings with Rights and Democracy before you are sworn in or during your time in office, in order to improve your capacity to govern and lead your constituents to dismantle structural racism? Yes
- (Y/N) Do you support fair and impartial policing policies in Burlington? Yes
- How should these policies be enforced?
By oversight panels in each community made up of citizens from that community, including people of color and other marginalized identities. I would want advocacy groups, students groups, and community members who are both part of marginalized groups and working to break down oppression in any form, to make up these oversight bodies.
- Environment: Corporations are poisoning our air and water in the unchecked pursuit of profit. Climate scientists are nearly unanimous in saying that global climate change is happening at an alarming rate and is driven by the use of fossil fuels.
- As an elected official how would you support expanding investments into public transportation, building weatherization and healthy water systems to create good jobs with job training and standards?
Our budget on a city and state wide level needs to reflect the urgent threat of climate change. We are far behind on adequately addressing the threat of climate change. Burlington needs to achieve 100% renewable energy consumption in the transportation, heating, and electricity sectors. We need to expand walking and biking options, create an electric bike share program, help fund electric buses, capture the waste heat from McNeil Biomass Plant to provide district heating, work with landlords and tenants to weatherize apartments, and switch more buildings from natural gas to electric heat pumps.
- (Y/N) Do you support divesting all public funds from fossil fuel portfolios? Yes
- What is one step Burlington could take to ensure that it reduces the contamination of Lake Champlain?
Reduce the amount of impermeable surfaces in Burlington in order to reduce runoff. For example, the new streets being built as a part of the new Burlington Town Center redevelopment project should use permeable pavements. The city should also continue to incentivize the use of rain barrels and rain gardens.
- Gender Justice: We believe that all people have the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.
- How will you lead on issues that are critical to the safety and autonomy of members of the LGBTQ Community in Burlington?
It is important that Burlington is an inclusive community for ALL our neighbors. As a bisexual white male growing up in Catholic schooling, I’ve seen first hand how institutions and social norms can create barriers in the community. I plan to work directly with LGBTQA activists, student groups, and local advocacy groups to give our community a seat at the table.
- How will you ensure that the reproductive rights of women are protected and that they have access to family planning services?
While Trump and the GOP are fighting to defund Planned Parenthood on the federal level, I am committed to ensuring our local Planned Parenthood, on Paul St, is able to stay open to provide critical health services, including safe, legal abortion for women in Burlington and the surrounding area. Ensuring Planned Parenthood stays open is an issue of the reproductive rights of women as well as an issue of providing affordable healthcare to our community.
- Disability Rights: Recently, the city of Burlington allowed a special committee on accessibility to dissolve at a time when questions of accessibility and accommodations are under constant attack.
- How will you ensure that Americans with Disabilities Act— an important Civil Rights law—is enforced?
Ensuring that our community is accessible to all of our neighbors is extremely important. We must continue to ensure our city’s public spaces are in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, city tasks such as timely snow removal are essential to making sure ALL community members can find their way around our city.
- (Y/N) Do you support a planning requirement for all redevelopment projects in the city that developers make these new spaces more accessible to the public? Yes
- Senior Issues: We know that as a country, a state, a county, and a community that our population is aging, and that raises new challenges, and opportunities, for our city.
- What is the one issue that you would especially want to focus on in order to address the challenges facing Burlington’s seniors?
Affordable Housing, accessibility, and access to affordable healthcare are all issues that affect our seniors on a day to day basis.
- Endorsement: Why do you want the endorsement of Rights & Democracy?
Rights and Democracy shares my commitment to advancing direct democracy, progressive values, and a focus on issues, movements, and the needs of the people and planet over parties, politics, and private profits.