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Policy Platform



Everyone deserves to feel and be safe in Burlington. Right now, the city is not meeting this standard. Burlington, Vermont, and our entire country are facing serious community safety challenges including substance use disorder and lack of adequate mental health care and  affordable housing. These complex problems all  feed a felt sense that our community is unsafe. We can visibly see people suffering across the community. Addressing community safety will be my first and top priority as mayor. 


Improving community safety cannot be solved through one approach, or by one person. It requires collaboration and  creative solutions that are community-centered, help people meet their basic needs, and make better use of enforcement and response measures that are proven to improve safety.

People deserve a timely and appropriate response when they call for help. We must convene our community to make sure all critical stakeholders are at the table to solve the root of our community safety challenges. This includes police, public health, businesses, mental health and social service providers, and community members. As mayor of Burlington, City leaders will engage  as collaborators. My job will be to listen, bring experts and community members  to the table, and take visible action in partnership with the City Council and others. 


With me as your mayor, Burlington will be a state and national leader in responding robustly to these issues.

Emma’s Strategies and Policy Solutions  

  1. Support a city government culture that centers community, collaboration, innovation and building trust with the community. We need city government to work for the community and see leaders working together, not blaming each other and creating more division.

  2. Improve daily quality of life for everyone in our city - both those in crisis and those who are not, including residents and businesses impacted by the effects of substance use and mental health. This includes: 

    • Bring experts and stakeholders to the table to find solutions to the root causes, listen to their expertise, and work in partnership with the city council to implement solutions. We cannot solve community safety issues with the tools and approach we have been using so far. It is not working. 

    • Develop and implement a smart and responsive strategy for needle recovery.

  3. Increase visibility and enforcement to deter crime and negative behavior. There must be increased visibility and prompt response to prevent crime and negative behaviors. This will require police, landlords, neighbors, and businesses working together. Evidence shows that the simple presence of enforcement changes behavior, not the threat of punishment.

  4. Implement a better and more responsive community safety system to meet the needs of our residents and rebuild the community’s trust. 

    • Appoint a special assistant to the mayor on community safety to lead the city towards briskly advancing and implementing our work on community safety response and coordinate city and community partner efforts. I will make this appointment in my first month in office and commence this work immediately. 

    • Improve the existing overdose prevention responses to be efficient in use of staff and city resources. This includes engaging community partners, businesses, and organizations with evidence-based overdose prevention tools. 

    • Examine overdose prevention centers as one part of a more comprehensive response to substance use prevention and recovery services.

    • Implement a more robust response to non-violent incidents with skilled professionals and create strong relationships with designated agencies and public health experts.

    • Elevate how the city uses our Community Justice Center and restorative practices and increase resources to support victims of crimes.

  5. Advocate for state and regional partnerships to leverage resources and policy changes to address root causes to community safety issues. This includes, but is not limited to, common sense gun laws, state responses to substance use disorder, workforce development investment in mental health and social workers, and regional coordination to find short-term solutions for people experiencing homelessness. Burlington cannot be alone in solving or addressing these complex challenges.



Burlington benefits when we prioritize policies that help us maintain economic diversity among residents and keep city services, municipal taxes and fees affordable. Burlington should be a community where individuals and families of all income levels can live and thrive. We must recognize Vermont’s cost of living competes with some of the most expensive urban areas in the country while median income is much lower than those areas. When people are able to meet their basic needs, find affordable and stable housing, and find a dignified job, this creates the components needed for a safe and vibrant community. We all benefit when we maintain municipal government services with sound fiscal planning and funding required to maintain our infrastructure and services. 


Working people deserve policies that support them accessing livable wage jobs, affordable housing, and high-quality child care and health insurance. Labor unions are a critical part of a vibrant economy as they help lift wages and improve working conditions for all workers in our economy. Pro-worker policies also disproportionately benefit women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ workers who face economic barriers due to wage disparities and bias in the workplace. On a local level, the city can leverage its role as a major employer and its contracting work with other employers to establish professional wages, benefits, and strong labor practices. 


Burlington residents, businesses, and visitors deserve a city able to deliver high quality services, which includes maintaining critical infrastructure. We must develop fiscal planning for the city that coordinates financing needs between city departments and with our school district to balance the investments needed for city assets. We must maintain a general fund that allows the city to adequately hire, retain, and compensate employees to meet its many, complex needs.

Emma’s Strategies and Policy Solutions  

  1. Transition the city’s municipal tax system to a progressive income-based tax system similar to the state education property tax system. 

  2. Continue to advocate for the state to implement per pupil funding weights formulas which allow Burlington to draw more state resources to meet the educational costs for multilingual students and those experiencing poverty. 

  3. Explore affordability programs to assist home-owners and renters to finance energy efficiency measures. 

  4. Collaborate with housing developers committed to the public good to expand the availability of affordable and workforce housing in Burlington. 

  5. Enforce the city’s short-term rental ordinance to leverage limited existing housing stock to be used for city residents.

  6. Serve as a model employer in developing apprenticeships and pathways with community partners to provide employment to marginalized communities, including New Americans, and formerly incarcerated Vermonters.

  7. Deepen partnerships with local employers to create a local workforce development strategy to support employers in filling vacancies by leveraging Burlington’s assets to attract and retain employees. 

  8. Work with institutional partners such as the University of Vermont, Champlain College and UVM Medical Center to address housing needs of the community. 



Climate change is impacting people across the globe - including every community in Vermont.  We have the ability to collectively act to make change in how we navigate our new climate reality. We also are fortunate to live in a city and state with incredible natural resources and many tools available to us, including two locally-controlled, municipally owned utilities. Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income and BIPOC people and our solutions must be equitable. The city has an obligation to leverage our existing assets to create equitable access to affordable energy efficiency and mass transit, while continuing to serve as a leader on climate resiliency among other Vermont municipalities. 


The two major focal points for climate mitigation policy must be helping residents, businesses, and institutions move from fossil fuel-based heating sources to renewable sources and investing in transportation systems that prioritize other modes of transportation beyond single occupant fossil fueled vehicles. Our next mayor will need to address timely questions about how we work with local institutions to move towards renewable heating sources and improve the health of our lake.

Emma’s Strategies and Policy Solutions  

  1. Advocate for a free and/or low-cost, coordinated, and efficient regional bus system between publicly owned transit and large employers like UVM, UVMMC, and Champlain. 

  2. Enforce the recent ordinance to weatherize rental properties and phase in more rental properties on a faster timeline to bring more of the city into compliance on a faster timeline. Move Burlington residents, businesses, and institutions off of fossil fuels for heating and transportation fuel sources, while keeping locally controlled electric rates affordable.

  3. Move Burlington off carbon-based energy sources, including developing a responsible transition plan to close the McNeil plant. 

  4. Expand the current WRAP program by BED and VHFA to encourage home-owners and renters to use bill financing to fund energy efficiency investments in homes without relying on debt financing or individual disposable wealth. 

  5. Create and prioritize safe and interconnected walking and biking networks.

  6. Leverage the city’s utilities, CEDO department, and state partners to embark on stronger public education with home-owners and renters on energy efficiency and transportation options available and assist with navigating the ins and outs of accessing rebates and financing. 

  7. Convene stakeholders to develop new strategies to assist homeowners, renters, businesses owners that are responsive to continued changes in our environment and changes in state and federal policy so the city can continue to innovate.

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