words by Ben Sarle // image by Oliver Parini
The race for the open seat in Burlington’s Ward 2 has been a prominent item in the media spotlight as the race has begun to heat up with only 3 weeks left until the election takes place during Town Meeting Day on March 5th. The seat was occupied by Ward 2 Democrat councilor Bram Kranichfeld, who decided not to run for reelection somewhat late in the game. This has brought two candidates to the battleground, Democrat Emily Lee (pictured above) and Progressive Jane Knodell. Knodell is a 14 year veteran of City Council who left public office 4 years ago seeking to recapture her former glory in Ward 2, and Lee is an ambitious and energetic newcomer to the race for City Council. Instead of trying to redundantly articulate the profiles of these two determined women to the relatively small audience in Burlington who keeps up on this kind of political discourse, here is a link to our pals over at Seven Days and a beautifully written piece by Kevin J. Kelley. Oh, and not sure which ward you live in? Here’s a helpful map.
As a sometimes outspoken, sometimes peripheral member of the local political landscape, Thread Magazine feels that it is important to maintain transparency in regard to our political leanings, and we would like to officially endorse Democratic Candidate Emily Lee for Ward 2 City Council. As many of our staff [including myself] are long time residents of Ward 2 in Burlington, as well as having Thread Magazine world-wide headquarters located in Ward 2 and the Old North End, we have little doubt that Lee is the right woman for the job. Today she was also officially endorsed by Mayor Miro Weinberger; his press release can be seen here.
Emily truly is the fresh start that Ward 2 needs. For the sake of brevity, here’s the short list of issues we here at Thread, and also as members of the Millennial demographic, see as the primary concerns that need to be addressed in Ward 2:
1) Crime/Safety — Crime, drugs, and domestics are nothing new in the Old North End. However, the frequency of unsolicited incidents on the streets and home break-ins have increased recently; it would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t have a friend or a friend of a friend who has been followed, robbed, or had their house broken into. On a personal note, this really hit home a few months ago when our friend Reggie was shot on Crombie, half a block from our offices. This needs to stop.
2) Economic Development — This is another long standing issue that needs to be addressed through fostering growth and incentives for businesses to develop in parts of Ward 2. On North Winooski Ave, for example, there are vacancies all along the extensive strip North of North Street that could and should be vibrant local businesses that not only cater to our Ward’s residents, but would bring folks the few extra blocks from Church Street to visit them. The South End has a thriving Pine Street sector, and there is no reason our ward can’t be well on the way to something similar.
3) Affordable Housing — Needless to say, rent is absurd here in Burlington. Most of Ward 2 used to be the last vestige of reasonable rent, but that has changed as the population of young renters has increased to the point where landlords in our ward have all the leverage. There are certainly those hidden gems that can still be found, however they are few and far between. Without an agenda for building or at least renovating existing homes, this problem will only get worse. And it is critical that this plan doesn’t compromise the cultural or economic diversity of the ward as well.
4) Biking — We love bikes, and so do you. Creating a more bike-friendly environment for cyclists in Burlington and especially Ward 2 is imperative to increasing the safety of those who ride, reducing car traffic, and making a city that we can be proud to commute to/within. Bike lanes are great, but understandably difficult to incorporate due to physical width of the road, although Intervale Ave and Elmwood could really use a line or two. But even making it more friendly to the culture of biking with paving the heinous pot holes in the spring and putting in more bike racks is a good start; have you seen the bike scene outside the *trifecta (Radio Bean/OP/Three Needs) in the summer? Yes, that’s technically in Ward 3, but still…
Thanks for reading our editorial, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your thoughts, ideas, disagreements, or solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ‘like’ Emily Lee’s Campaign Facebook Page here. And most importantly, don’t forget to VOTE on Tuesday, March 5th!
Lastly, here’s a little context from 2009; food for political thought — interpret these however you like: