New North End group mounts campaign to 'write-in Wright'

Published: Jan. 20, 2020 at 4:51 PM EST
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There's a twist in a Burlington City Council race. A longtime New North End candidate who already told voters he isn't running could still end up with the Ward 4 seat.

Kurt Wright is a familiar name with local politics. He's the current city council president and has been on the council for 16 of the last 25 years. But the only way you'll see his name on the ballot this time is if you put it there.

"I'm announcing this morning that I will not be a candidate for city council reelection in 2020," Wright said back in early December.

The announcement took supporters like Alex Farrell by surprise. "A number of us just said, 'No, he's the guy we need there,' Farrell said.

So from now until Town Meeting Day, he and other "Friends of Kurt Wright" will be handing out flyers and spreading the word to voters to write-in Wright.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Do you think this has a shot at working?

Alex Farrell: I think it does. It's Kurt Wright. Everybody knows Kurt Wright.

They told us they got the blessing from Wright when they asked.

"Well, I'm certainly not discouraging it. In some ways I'm enthusiastic about it in the sense of, look, when I announced I wasn't running, it wasn't because I didn't want to serve," Wright said. He says he didn't run again because he would have had to put his radio station job on pause to campaign.

"I think that my voice and perspective is still important on the council," he said.

When we spoke with Ward 4 voters, most of them knew who Wright is. Some said they would remember to write him in if they were reminded.

"I'm glad because he makes a difference. He pays attention," said Nikki White of Burlington.

Meanwhile, Sarah Carpenter is going door-to-door getting the word out that she is officially on the Ward 4 ballot. And the Democrat says she wasn't expecting this.

"I'm surprised. I spoke with him and he had said publicly that he is not going to run, so it takes me by surprise," she said.

Carpenter says she's letting voters in her ward know she's committed to the job.

"And once I made that decision I didn't waffle. I'm here to work with our neighbors and that commitment is really critical if you're going to serve as a councilor for the city," she said.

Wright says he won't be involved in the campaigning on his behalf and says if voters want him, he'll keep representing them.

"I'd say it's a bit of a long shot, but if they're successful, I certainly would be happy to continue to serve Ward 4," he said.

Town Meeting Day is on March 3. Any candidates who want their name on the ballot have to turn in their paperwork by Jan. 27.

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