Burlington voters consider lengthy ballot

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:40 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Queen city residents Tuesday faced a ballot chocked full of charter changes and other measures with major policy implications on issues including policing, ranked-choice voting, and the citizen referendum process itself.

“It’s our responsibility to vote and participate and there are always important decisions to be made,” said James Rainville, one of many Burlington voters exercising their civic duties.

“I think that police oversight is something that our country really needs and I’m excited to be able to move that forward in Burlington,” said Melanie Guild.

Voters we spoke to in Ward 2 expressed enthusiastic support for the citizen-led police oversight change which would create an independent community control board for the BPD.

That’s a measure the mayor vetoed a couple of years ago and one of the most contentious on the ballot measure for many voters.

“I think that there’s been a lot of work done by community members to make it a better bill overall and we need something of that sort here. And I think giving people the power to do that is really important,” said Alana Potts, a UVM student.

But in Ward 7, residents like Lori Davison felt the charter change was not the right fit for Burlington. “I feel that police oversight is important but that motion or ballot item was poorly crafted and would not be a very effective way to go about achieving police oversight,” she said.

Two voting measures -- expanding ranked choice and allowing non-citizen voting in local elections -- were also on the ballot. “I felt strongly about the one that you need to be a U.S. resident before you can vote in the city of Burlington that should be maintained,” Rainville said.

“I feel very strongly about the ranked-choice voting. I think it’s been tried before, it’s been disastrous, and there’s no need to revisit it,” Davison said.

Above all, voters we spoke to say casting their vote is one of the most important civic responsibilities. “I just really care about the community. I think that I do view it as my civic duty. I think it’s really important. There are a lot of issues that are up for a vote this term and I just think it’s really important,” Potts said.

Polls in Burlington are open until 7 p.m.

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