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What redrawing Burlington’s political maps could mean for the city

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The wards in Burlington could look much different after new census data mandated that redistricting take place this year.

It’s still very early in the process, but it could even mean a different number of councilors, which could impact the balance of power on the Burlington City Council.

Currently, the council sits at six Progressives, two independents and four Democrats for a total of 12 councilors.

There is one council seat for each of the city’s eight wards and four more councilors, each representing a two-ward district.

Monday night, the City Council will discuss potential new maps, many focusing on what’s been called a problematic ward configuration in Ward 8 which houses the majority of UVM students and suffers from low voter participation.

Maddy Posig is a Ward 8 resident who hopes the district is redrawn to include more long-term residents in the community.

“Nothing against the students but they don’t have the same long-term goals that myself, my neighbors, the long-term residents have, and not only that they are transitory, they are only here for a few years at the most and they have a different viewpoint than we do,” Posig said.

The four maps up for consideration offer different approaches to solving some of the issues of the current ward/district configuration.

One includes 12 wards, another splits up where students live and broadens Ward 8 to include more long-term residents.

Another issue with Ward 8, according to Posig, is that people cannot campaign in the dorms on campus unless they are students, making it increasingly hard for candidates to campaign.

Monday night is just a work session for the council to begin discussions on the potential makeup. They haven’t yet decided yet whether they will be keeping districts, as well. But citizens will likely vote on new maps by November.

The City Council will also vote Monday night on the design concept for what they are calling the Main Street Great Streets Concept for future construction along Main Street. Citizens recently voted yes for TIF district funding to completely revamp six blocks of the street.

Councilors will also be asking the Department of Permitting and Inspections to enforce bed-and-breakfast or hotel regulations on short-term rentals in the city. But councilors say they expect to have another draft of new short-term rental rules back in front of them in a few weeks.

Related Stories:

City council to review Burlington redistricting maps

Burlington redistricting effort focuses on Ward 8, shifting student populations

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