Weinberger runs for reelection; Councilors Tracy, Pine and Dieng jump into mayoral race

By | November 11, 2020

Mayor Miro Weinberger (top left) and Councilors Max Tracy (top right), Brian Pine (lower left) and Ali Dieng (lower right) are all running for Burlington mayor.

This story was updated at 2:20 p.m.

The field for Burlington mayor just got crowded.

Democratic incumbent Miro Weinberger announced his bid for reelection Tuesday to supporters. Progressive Councilors Brian Pine and Max Tracy are seeking their party’s nomination, according to the Progressive Party’s website. Independent Councilor Ali Dieng confirmed to VTDigger Tuesday morning that he’s also running for mayor. 

No other Republican or Democratic candidate has tossed their hat into the mayor’s race. South End resident Patrick White told Seven Days that he is planning to run as an independent. 

In an email sent to supporters Tuesday morning, Weinberger said he wants to continue leading the city through its pandemic response, racial justice reforms, climate change actions and infrastructure projects. 

“Yesterday, I notified the Burlington Democratic Party that I will be a candidate for the party’s mayoral nomination at the Democratic Caucus,” Weinberger wrote. “Serving as mayor has been the honor of my life. Together, we have accomplished so much over the last nine years. I will always be deeply grateful for your support and belief in my ability to work with our community to move Burlington forward.”

“And we have more important work ahead,” he added.

Weinberger’s administration has enjoyed considerable success navigating the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the least affected cities in the country. But some see him as vulnerable in this race, primarily due to the perpetually stalled CityPlace downtown development project and the recent protests around police reform in the Burlington Police Department. 

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Weinberger’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his reelection announcement. The Democratic caucus will be held virtually on Dec. 6. 

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Dieng, who represents Ward 7, said he’ll be making a formal announcement about his mayoral run in the coming weeks, which will include whether he’s seeking a party’s nomination or if he’ll run as an independent. He declined to discuss his platform or his competitors until that announcement, which he said will come by December. 

Dieng was first elected to the council in 2018 and is known for his independent voting record. He is originally from Mauritania, West Africa, where he studied law at University of Nouakchott. According to his website, he moved to Burlington in 2008 and is currently the family outreach coordinator and parent university manager for the Burlington School District.

The Progressive Party also announced Monday night two of its candidates who are seeking the party’s nomination: Tracy and Pine. 

Pine represents Ward 3 on the City Council and Tracy represents Ward 2.

Pine said he didn’t have time to have a phone conversation about his candidacy this week. In text messages, he was reluctant to say he was formally running, despite being labeled as a candidate on the Progressive Party’s website and being scheduled to participate in the first Progressive candidate forum scheduled for Wednesday night.  

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He said he agreed to be included in Progressive Party election materials “as someone considering a run.” Progressive Party Chair Josh Wronski said both candidates knew about the press release that went out announcing their candidacy Monday night and that they confirmed they would be participating in the nomination process. 

Pine has worked for the city’s Community and Economic Development Office for 18 years. He previously served on the council from 1991 to 1995. He ran again in 2018 and was reelected in March. 

Tracy said he’s “excited” to jump into the race and that he thinks he can offer Burlington a different path forward. Tracy — who is a field organizer for the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals — described his leadership style as grassroots oriented. He described Weinberger’s leadership as “top-down” and “neoliberal.” 

“On a fundamental level, I think that Burlington needs a different direction,” Tracy said. “The fresh start that was promised by Miro eight years ago has grown stale.”

Tracy said he would propose more aggressive policies to address climate change, systemic racism and housing unaffordability in the city. 

Tracy is the longest-serving Progressive on Burlington’s City Council. He was first elected in 2012 and was appointed council president in April. 

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The first Progressive Party candidate forum will focus on climate and environmental issues and will be held Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. It will be livestreamed on the party’s Facebook page and website.

The second forum will take place Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. and will focus on racial and social justice issues. The third will take place Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. and will focus on economic justice issues. 

“We’re leaving the door open, it’s not an exhaustive list,” Wronski said, referring to the Progresisve candidate lineup. “So it’s totally possible someone else might jump in.” 

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Former Senate Pro Tem and Burlignton City Councilor Tim Ashe told VTDigger in October that he’s “not thinking” about running for mayor, despite encouragement from some in Burlington’s political scene. 

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