Progressive Nomination Caucus Speech - December 4, 2023
My name is Emma Mulvaney-Stanak and I am excited to ask for your vote to be the Progressive nominee for your next mayor of Burlington.
I am running for Mayor because Burlington faces serious challenges that have been ignored for too long. This has unraveled our sense of community. We are at a critical turning point for what we do next. It’s time for new leadership who can get things done and make progress for our neighbors and our entire city.
This is an incredible place. It offers tight knit neighborhoods, strong public schools, local small businesses, a thriving artistic community, and unparalleled accessible outdoor space. Yet, today many folks in our city are struggling with addiction, living unhoused in our streets, and/or dealing with mental health issues and cannot find care. Plainly, too many of our neighbors are suffering and too many are unsafe. I know that meeting people’s basic needs and creating opportunities for meaningful engagement is the real solution for creating safe communities.
We each have a role to play. As a longtime community and labor organizer, I view my policy work through a lens of maintaining a social compact - a mutual agreement between community and government that benefits everyone. Our social compact in Burlington is cracked. We need a leader who understands that the wellbeing of people should inform our policy decisions. When making decisions we need to start by asking: are we helping or are we harming people? And who benefits?
I have built my career on collaboration, tenacious problem solving, and action. These are the skills and values that Burlington needs in our next mayor. I am a policy maker and effective leader at the local and state level. I am a former Burlington city councilor, a current Vermont state representative, a small business owner, the wife of a city employee, and the mom to two fabulous, young kids.
We can’t afford divisiveness in our community - the stakes are too high. It impedes city leaders’ ability to take action and make good decisions. We deserve a city government that works for the whole community. Let’s be honest, we haven’t had that in some time.
We need a mayor who can convene community members, issue-based experts, and those most impacted by our struggles to develop solutions together, and then take action. We need a mayor who understands how to rebuild trust - who will not only listen, but act with an urgency that comes from a deep love of this incredible city. I will be that mayor.
I am a proud Progressive with a long history of successful collaboration with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I am seeking the Progressive nomination because I believe that the core economic, social, and environmental justice values of the Progressive Party are the values that our city needs most today.
As mayor, I will focus on three core policy areas: Community Safety, Affordability, and Livability for People and Planet.
First, Community Safety: Everyone deserves to feel and be safe in Burlington. The city is not meeting this expectation, but together we can get there. Addressing community safety will be my top priority as mayor. Burlington, Vermont, and our entire country, face serious community safety challenges including substance use disorder, a lack of adequate mental health care and a housing emergency.
People deserve a timely and appropriate response when they call for help. Improving community safety cannot be solved through one approach, or by one entity. Our city’s current approach is not working. We must make better use of proven community enforcement measures that include community policing, right-sized staffing levels for police, social workers, and mental health first responders, and strategic use of city resources to address “hot spots” experiencing increased crime. We also need to support victims of crimes by improving coordination between the police department and Parallel Justice Program.
While we work on short-term solutions, we also need to invest in the long-term work of prevention and intervention. This includes creating overdose prevention centers and improving existing recovery services. We also need to be more effective in the legislature to advocate for common gun sense laws. And we need to do more gun violence prevention with youth and families on a local level.
Second, Affordability. Residents of all income levels should be able to live and thrive in our community. Burlington benefits when we prioritize policies that value economic diversity. Burlington and Vermont are experiencing a housing affordability emergency. We need to keep municipal taxes and fees affordable and sustainable for future and current homeowners. We must advance solutions that address rent stabilization, upzoning, and strengthening the city’s affordable housing strategies.
People deserve policies that support their economic dignity, especially in the workplace. The city can offer professional wages, benefits, and strong labor practices in its role as a major employer and through its contracted work with other employers.
Third: Livability for People and Planet. We must create a livable city where everyone feels they belong and people and our environment are healthy.
A vibrant Burlington is a place where someone’s identity does not determine how they experience our community. The recent act of hateful violence against the 3 Palestinian students emphasized how important this is. We create an inclusive community by integrating belonging, equity, and safety throughout the city’s functions.
Burlington can be a climate policy leader. We have to be more innovative and make decisions that prove a deep commitment to future generations. Our climate mitigation policy should help residents, businesses, and institutions move from fossil fuel-based to renewable heating sources. Second, we need to increase our investments in local transportation systems that prioritize options besides single occupant fossil fueled vehicles. Third, we must improve the health of our lake.
I am hopeful for the election ahead. Now is the time to increase community engagement and connection. As mayor, I will listen to you and ensure you have what you need to thrive.
I would like to thank my wife Megan (who had to work tonight), my children, and my friends and supporters for being here with me today for this big moment.
We are In It Together!
Photo Caption: Emma speaking at the Old North End Community Center to the Progressive Nomination Caucus, December 4, 2023.