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Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Wins Burlington Mayoral Race

By COURTNEY LAMDIN

Published March 5, 2024 at 11:50 p.m.



Updated at 11:50 p.m.


Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, a Progressive state representative, has been elected the next mayor of Burlington.


In unofficial results, Mulvaney-Stanak earned 51.2 percent of the vote, besting Democratic rival Joan Shannon, a longtime city councilor, in Tuesday's Town Meeting Day election. Shannon earned 45 percent of the vote.


It was a historic day: Mulvaney-Stanak will become Burlington’s first-ever woman mayor, as well as the first openly gay person to hold the seat. And it was the first time since 2009 that the Queen City used ranked-choice voting to pick a mayor — though Mulvaney-Stanak surpassed the 50 percent threshold on the first round of voting.


Independent candidates Will Emmons and Chris Haessly were a distant third and fourth, respectively, with less than 2 percent of the vote each.


Mulvaney-Stanak's mayoral victory is the first for the Progressives since Bob Kiss won the seat in 2009. Outgoing Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, has held the post since 2012.


Mulvaney-Stanak will be sworn in on April 1.


After the results came in, Mulvaney-Stanak was greeted by a raucous crowd celebrating at an election night party at Zero Gravity brewery.


"The city and the people are energized in a way I haven't seen in the last three, five years," she told Seven Days. "And so, we're going to do this together. It's never been about one person. This has been about so much more. So I'm very excited. And that energy played out in my favor tonight."


Speaking at a more subdued Democratic election-night party at Halvorson's Upstreet Café, Shannon congratulated Mulvaney-Stanak on her victory.


"Our commitment is not just to the campaign but to moving Burlington forward, so let's offer all hands on deck to Emma," she said, referencing her campaign slogan.


Weinberger congratulated Mulvaney-Stanak on her historic win and pledged to support her as she transitions into office.


“It’s very important to me that she succeed in this role at this important time for our community,” he said.


In a race focused on public safety, Mulvaney-Stanak campaigned on a promise to address the problems that lead to crime, homelessness and open drug use. She has also pledged to hire more police officers.


The public safety issue appeared to be an advantage for Shannon, who, on the campaign trail, touted her consistent support for the police, including her refusal to diminish the size of the force in a now-infamous 2020 vote led by Progressives.


But Mulvaney-Stanak was able to overcome it on Tuesday. On the trail, she'd touted her support from Democrats, and in some city districts on Election Day, she outperformed Progressive city council candidates.


At Zero Gravity, Vermont Progressive Party executive director Josh Wronski said it’s clear the electorate has Progressive values.


“Burlington voters are with us,” he said. “Burlington has not been on the right track for a long time, and I think Burlington voters see that, and they want a change.”


Former city council president Max Tracy, who lost the 2021 mayoral election to Weinberger by just 129 votes, credited Mulvaney-Stanak’s win to her skills as an organizer and her squad of 300 volunteers. He also noted that Mulvaney-Stanak prevailed despite Shannon’s impressive fundraising haul. Shannon raised nearly $165,000 and had 100 more donors than Mulvaney-Stanak, who raised about $103,000.


“Burlington is open for business, but it’s clearly not for sale,” Tracy said to cheers.


Earlier on Tuesday, Ward 7 voter Heather Gruen was excited to cast her ballot for Mulvaney-Stanak. A self-described low-income homeowner, Gruen said Mulvaney-Stanak is empathetic and cares about making housing in Burlington more affordable. Gruen also likes that Mulvaney-Stanak wouldn't seek to arrest people who use drugs in public. Shannon, by contrast, was in favor of more aggressive law enforcement.


"That's not a sustainable nor, I think, a beneficial [strategy]," Gruen said.


Rachel Hellman contributed reporting.

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