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Burlington voters repeal IRV - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington voters repeal IRV

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Mayor Bob Kiss Mayor Bob Kiss
Kurt Wright Kurt Wright

Burlington, Vermont - March 2, 2010

A raucus celebration at Norm's Grill in the new North End Tuesday night marked a victories end to the YES on 5 campaign in Burlington. A mix of Democrats and Republicans celebrated the defeat of Instant Runoff Voting.

After a debate that brought out big names like Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean urging a NO on 5 vote, Burlington residents voted to repeal IRV by a vote of 3972 to 3669, a margin of only 303 votes.

"It was a grass roots effort and we're really proud of the people that worked on this, we're ecstatic," said IRV opponent Chuck Seleen while celebrating the victory.

Wards 4 and 7 were the only two to vote YES on 5. Both had much higher voter turnout than the other wards. Mayor Bob Kiss says that is a sign most of the city still supports IRV and he suggests the city continues the discussion and possibly have yet another vote on IRV.

"This is a modest voter turnout. I think a bigger voter turnout might have a different result and particularly in the case because if you have two wards that are voting very heavily and I think other wards are more modest so if we heat up that debate we might get a better view of Burlingtonians' real view on IRV," Kiss said at City Hall moments after the results were tallied.

Several city councilors and election observers have suggested the IRV vote is a referendum on Kiss and his administration, as it tries to deal with the mess of Burlington Telecom. Kurt Wright, who was elected back to the city council, Tuesday, by defeating incumbent democrat Russ Ellis, says it is time Kiss gets the message.

"The mayor once again needs to get his head out of the sand, quite frankly, and get wit hit. I mean, the people rejected Instant Runoff Voting. He needs to move on. This is another signal of the mayor being completely out of touch," Wright said.

Kiss's Progressive party did not pick up extra seats on the city council and in fact lost a seat to the Democrat in Ward 2, creating a new dynamic as the city continues to wrestle with the future of Burlington Telecom.

While IRV was certainly the biggest issue on the ballot it was not the only issue. Voters were also feeling quite generous with spending. They approved a $51.9 million school budget by 59%. They approved a $21.5 million revenue bond to add 600 parking spaces to the parking garage at the Burlington International Airport by 77%. A $1.3 million general obligation bond to buy two new fire trucks and refurbish and old one passed with a 77% vote as well. Voters also passed a question to making Burlington a clean energy assessment district, and voted to clarify the process the mayor uses to appoint department heads.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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