Positions and Platform

Introduction

In this paper, I share my position on major issues, such as the environment, the economy, energy sources and usage, and their applicability to South Burlington.  DISCLAIMER:  even though candidates for South Burlington city council do not run on party affiliations, I do want to disclose that I am a Progressive, and that my positions on these issues are totally aligned with the Progressive Party platform. 

I also share my positions on some specific South Burlington issues, such as the Chamberlin neighborhood, airport relationships, and city center.

Finally, I cite some differences between me and my opponent.

 

The Environment

I believe our natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life and economy.  I appreciate the intrinsic value of nature and know we have to be good stewards of this treasure so we and future generations can survive and thrive.

We need to aggressively protect our water, air and biodiversity using regulations when necessary, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.

I want to take vigorous action against climate change, to restore our impaired waterways, promote composting, reduce pesticide use,  protect our diverse ecosystem, and enhance our scenic beauty.

 

The Economy

We need to create an economy that is sustainable and reverses the destruction of our planet.  A strong local economy is the foundation to a vibrant and sustainable future that will foster a high quality of life.

I support a livable wage for all employees.  The people who work in South Burlington should be able to afford to live in South Burlington.  South Burlington businesses should seek to hire city residents.

I support cooperatives, and local home-grown and worker-owned businesses as an alternative to huge profit-driven corporations.

 

Energy

I support renewable energy sources, such as solar power, coupled with energy-efficient programs.  I am putting this support into personal action: solar panels are scheduled to be installed at my house on February 14.  I also support investments and jobs in energy conservation and weatherization programs.  We can and we must massively reduce our fossil fuel use and replace it with renewables.

 

Chamberlin Neighborhood

Protecting the people who live in this treasured section of our city is paramount to me.  I want to improve quality of life and stop the destruction of this neighborhood.  Since 1985 well over 200 homes have been demolished in order to satisfy airport expansion. Some say the way to stop the demolitions is to improve our relationship with Burlington, the airport and Guard officials.  Building better relationships are always beneficial; but I will not give Burlington or the airport or the Guard a blank check and acquiesce to all their wishes, including home demolitions.

For me, the residents of the Chamberlin neighborhood will always take precedence over any airport desires.  Their home values and their quality of life are what are important to me.  I will never conceal information from them. Nor will I ignore or deny the danger to them from the basing of the F-35 in South Burlington.

 

City of Burlington/Airport Relationship

I applaud past efforts on the part of all entities to come together so that we can all survive and thrive.  I will vigorously pursue increasing contacts and discussions in open sessions so that residents are active participants in all decisions affecting their neighborhood.  I suggest regular joint (South Burlington and Burlington) city council meetings as a start. Although my opponent in this election is the South Burlington representative to the City of Burlington Airport Commission; to date, South Burlington has not been adequately represented in airport matters, and South Burlington’s needs have not been fairly considered.  If I am elected, I will vigorously advocate for the needs of our citizens and our city.

 

City Center including Central School

I am in favor of a city center as a central place for South Burlington residents — a place to live, socialize, dine, conduct business, create, recreate and shop.  I share the vision of many residents, that city center be a sense of place that is pedestrian and bike friendly, with a village green, a library, a senior/recreation/arts center, city hall, a school — that being, Central School — and multi-use structures with local home-grown shops on the ground floor and affordable housing on higher floors.  I envision South Burlington’s city center as a model of a net-zero energy use downtown, with all buildings constructed with the highest energy efficiency and using solar power.

 

Differences in Candidate Positions

The Environment

My Position: 

  • I pledge to work to preserve our water, air, biodiversity and natural environment and to protect our remaining open spaces.
  • I pledge to work to protect the beautiful scenic views we have of the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, and Lake Champlain as well as our trees and meadows.
  • I will weigh all proposed city actions in relation to its effect on climate change.
  • I will strongly support small scale sustainable agriculture in South Burlington.
  • I will take vigorous action against climate change, by working to restore our impaired waterways, promoting composting and reducing pesticide use.

 

The Incumbent’s Position: 

  • She advocated building houses on the Underwood Property, which the city purchased with open space taxpayer funds.
  • She supports the ever-increasing suburban sprawl with cookie-cutter housing developments that are not smartly planned, that block gorgeous views, and that use fossil fuels and prolong our reliance on them.
  • She refused to discuss climate change.
  • She voted to disband the city’s Sustainable Agriculture Committee—over the unanimous objections of other city boards and commissions.

 

The Economy

My Position:

  • I will support an economy that is sustainable and reverses the destruction of our planet.
  • I will encourage local home-grown small businesses, worker-owned businesses, and cooperatives in South Burlington as an alternative to huge profit-driven corporations.
  • I support a livable wage for all employees. The people who work in South Burlington should be able to afford to live in South Burlington. I will encourage South Burlington businesses to hire city residents.
  • I will protect, defend and retain airport neighborhood homes and put pressure on the City of Burlington to end the home demolitions and reduce military jet noise at its airport in our city. I support charging Burlington a heavy replacement tax on homes that it is purchasing, and a heavy vacancy tax on homes left vacant awaiting demolition.
    • South Burlington taxpayers are paying for the demolition of homes three times over: FAA buyout money comes from our federal taxes; matching FAA money comes from our state taxes; and our city property taxes will increase to compensate for the loss of taxes that once were paid by those living in those homes. Thus, every resident of South Burlington pays a price for home demolitions, no matter where they live in the city.
  • I give priority to the residents and want them to have a strong say about whether and what kind of development happens in and near their neighborhoods.

The Incumbent’s Position:

  • She favors large corporations and developers. She favors out of state developers building what they want in South Burlington. She puts airport expansion plans ahead of South Burlington neighborhoods, families and children.
  • She voted for home buyouts and supports the demolition of homes in South Burlington. She supports the F-35 basing which will further reduce property values for the homes in the noise zone, and put extra tax burdens on the rest of South Burlington residents.
  • She consistently speaks out in favor of big developers over the welfare of South Burlington residents.

 

Energy

My Position:

  • I support investments and jobs in energy conservation and weatherization. I’m in favor of requiring all new structures to have the very highest energy efficiency standards and to use solar panels for their energy needs.  At a minimum, new structures should be made solar ready. We can and we must massively reduce, and quickly eliminate fossil fuel use and replace these with renewable energy sources.
  • I want to reduce our use of fossil fuels and our dependence on cars; and therefore I support connecting neighborhoods with bike and pedestrian paths and vastly improving public transit.

The Incumbent’s Position:

  • She will not discuss climate change. She opposed mandating, or even encouraging the use of solar power because it might cost developers a bit more money to construct.  She even opposed mandating that new structures’ roofs be oriented toward the sun so that solar panels could be installed in the future.
  • She has shown no interest in taking measures to reduce our energy consumption or increase our bike paths.

 

Chamberlin Neighborhood

My Position:

  • I will address the source of the airport noise problem: military jet noise. F-16 noise caused and continues to cause the demolition of hundreds of homes.  F-16 noise disturbs learning at Chamberlin School. F-16 noise has destroyed parts of the Chamberlin neighborhood and increased taxes for all South Burlington residents.
  • I will continue to oppose the basing of the F-35, which will vastly increase the noise for homeowners and children all around the airport.
    • Federal documents state that land acquisition and relocation of homes is the only way to eliminate the impact of military jet noise on homes. They further state that other noise “mitigation” methods, such as barriers and insulation do not work.  Therefore, the only solution is to remove the source of the noise: military jets.
  • I will propose that South Burlington impose a “replacement tax” similar to one Burlington has. This will require the City of Burlington to pay South Burlington the assessed value of any house in South Burlington that it owns and demolishes and does not replace on the same land, plus any additional costs for purchasing land in South Burlington outside the noise zone on which to build a replacement house.

The Incumbent’s Position:

  • She contributed to the current chaos by continually siding with the airport over the interests of South Burlington, even when it harmed the health and safety of Chamberlin area residents. She went further by lobbying strongly for the basing of the F-35 in South Burlington.
  • She voted to continue and expand Chamberlin home buyouts and then concealed this from the city council and the neighborhood.

 

City of Burlington/Airport Relationship

My Position:

  • My sole priority is the residents of South Burlington. They, and their needs and interests, take precedence over any airport expansion plans. 
  • I support regular council-to-council sessions on airport and other mutual interests.
  • I want airport neighborhood residents to be in control of any committee that decides their fate.

The Incumbent’s Position:

  • She consistently put the airport’s wants ahead of the needs of South Burlington residents.
  • She concealed vital information from other South Burlington city councilors and residents about a new FAA grant to purchase and demolish more homes.
  • She apologized to the airport for a South Burlington City Councilor’s stance in speaking up for the residents.
  • She behaves as is she were the airport’s representative on the South Burlington City Council, instead of the South Burlington representative on Burlington’s Airport Commission.

 

City Center including Central School

My Position:

  • I support ALL of our current schools. In particular, I support keeping Central School in its current location and oppose plans by developers to demolish Central School. I think it is beneficial to have students live near where they go to school, and have a pedestrian-friendly walkable city center close by.  I do not favor putting our kids out to pasture.  I oppose building a new school in our shrinking rural areas.  This would isolate our children and will require more motorized transport.

The Incumbent’s Position:

  • She favors demolishing Central School to make way for large box stores in city center. Her view of city center as just another area dominated by cars, concrete, and high-rises is diametrically opposed to the vision of the citizens. 

 

NOTE: The incumbent, Pat Nowak, was fined by the State of Vermont for violating campaign finance laws during her campaign for city council in 2013.  During that same campaign, she was supported by PAMPAC, South Burlington’s first political action committee (PAC).  Over $25,000 was spent that year to win two city council seats.  Pat Nowak (and Chris Shaw) won that election.

 

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