FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition of Burlington voters demands reminders, accountability and democracy
People for Democracy – FaRied Munarsyah (802)272-8339
People for Police Accountability – Tyler Pastorok
Zero Proposition – Daniel Munteanu
Burlington VT (02/28/22) – Town meeting day is still over 24 hours away and most Burlington voters haven’t even voted, but a coalition of Burlington voters are already advocating for recalls . Current and former elected officials, as well as current and former election candidates from all political backgrounds appear to agree that amending the Queen City Municipal Charter to grant voters the power to remove elected officials before the end of their term by the through a revocation process.
People for Democracy today announced its adoption of a decade-old charter amendment proposal establishing the mechanism for recall elections in the Burlington Charter. A grassroots coalition of Burlington voters aimed at increasing participation and accountability in city government, the group plans to revive a 2010 charter amendment proposal originally co-sponsored by former Ward 4 Councilman Kurt Wright and current Southern District Councilor Joan Shannon.
“The political reality of our civic engagement is that we rely on a small number of people to represent our interests. Participation in civic engagement today must rise above a choice between individuals who may or may not represent our values over time,” says a campaign supporter and former independent candidate for Infinite Culcleasure Town Hall.
FaRied Munarsyah, a project volunteer and current candidate for Ward 5 City Council, sees dismissal as a powerful tool to hold government officials accountable to the people. He echoes Culcleasure’s assessment of the need to lower barriers to political participation and adds that “beyond reminders, other mechanisms of direct democracy such as referendum initiatives can foster collaboration to develop creative, effective and inclusive local solutions. Ultimately, strengthening grassroots decision-making will increase authentic civic engagement and make our local democracy accessible to all.
Burlington currently has no charter provision for direct democracy mechanisms such as voter referendums, initiatives, and recalls. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Green Mountain State, where virtually every municipality has campaign initiatives and referendums written into its charter document. Dubbed “Proposal Zero,” the coalition’s first election bill currently has 600 petition signatures supporting a charter amendment that grants Burlington voters the same powers to propose, enact, or repeal ordinances through popular referendums as those granted to Vermont voters elsewhere.
A second project seeking independent oversight of the Burlington Police Department to promote accountability also has about 600 petition signatures supporting the charter amendment establishing community oversight of police. All charter amendment petitions require around 2,000 signatures to be included on the ballot for the upcoming November election, a threshold organizers hope to reach by deploying volunteer teams to win voter support and collect as many signatures. as possible at the eight polling stations on Town Meeting Day.
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