Burlington Mayoral Race Heats Up

The mayoral race here in Burlington has become quiet a contested one. With their efforts culminating in the March 7th election, the three main contenders; Democratic candidate Hinda Miller, Republican Kevin Curley, and Progressive Bob Kiss, have been launching all out campaigns, traveling door to door, handing out pamphlets and taking part in a series of debates across Burlington.

Though the candidates, with the notable exception of Progressive Bob Kiss, have focused the vast majority of their efforts on Burlington citizens and not UVM students, the student body has considerable interest in who gets elected as they will have much to say pertaining to the issues which effect the university. From housing regulation and enforcement for off campus students, to economic development for students looking for careers after college, the mayor of Burlington will have a direct effect on the lives of students here at UVM.

Here’s a look at the three main contestants and their views on the issues affecting UVM students as recorded in interviews with the Vermont Cynic, all quotes were recorded in these interviews:

Bob Kiss: Progressive:

Bob Kiss has been residing in Burlington since 1972. He has served three terms on the Vermont House of Representatives. Further, Kiss directed the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity for 12 years. While working at the anti-poverty office, Kiss was responsible for a staff of 150 people and an eight million dollar budget.

Vermont Cynic: What do you think of the off campus housing crunch particularly as the university expands?

Bob Kiss: I think the new dormitories are something that the community has asked for because they want the students to be able to live on campus more then live in apartments in the city because of the housing crunch. I think a lot of the expansion is positive.

VC: What is the main point of contention between students and Burlington residents and what are some possible solutions?

BC: As a representative my district has included UVM so for the last six years I’ve been in contact with SGA and with students…I’ve lived in Burlington since 72 and in all that time there hasn’t been a lot of contention between students and residents downtown and I think that’s a positive thing, that the university has been welcomed…

VC: Many students come to Vermont, obtain their degrees, and move to more economically viable locations to start their careers, is this as a problem? Any possible solutions?

BC: I think Burlington is a place people can stay…for all the accolades about it being a livable city, it is a livable city, and when I talk about it as a livable city one of the things I think is unique it has made a commitment to social equity so that it does provide for people who don’t have as much income as other people as other people to stay in the city. I think that’s one of the attractions for people graduating from UVM that this is a place for them build a life in the city of Burlington.

VC: Why, from the students’ perspective, would you be the best candidate?

BC: I think among young people there’s a vision of being able to change the world and make it better, so I think I bring that to the mayors office as well, I’m optimistic about the future of Burlington.

Hinda Miller: Democrat

Miller, who would be the first female mayor of Burlington, is currently a member of the Vermont State Senate and is on the senate economic development housing and general affairs committee, and the senate appropriations committee (the most powerful committee in the statehouse). She started her career in 1977 as a co-founder and president/CEO of Jog bra a multi-million dollar company. This business background lies at the center of Millers campaign. Her focus will be on steering the city the rough financial times it is staring into the face of.

Vermont Cynic: What do you think of the off campus housing crunch particularly as the university expands?

Hinda Miller: UVM and Champlain College as they grow really have to be responsible for housing their kids

VC: What is the main point of contention between students and Burlington residents and what are some possible solutions?

HM: it’s [the solution] discussion…about where is the win/win… getting the right people together…talking about it…and figuring out how you create some parameters everyone can agree to.

VC: Many students come to Vermont, obtain their degrees, and move to more economically viable locations to start their careers, is this as a problem? Any possible solutions?

HM: I’m hoping that the college kids that come to UVM…come back and that we’ll have housing and a place for them…to do incubator businesses, and to really form a life here.

VC: Why, from the students’ perspective, would you be the best candidate?

HM: I thought my skills as a business women, managing budgets managing organizations, and figuring out how to do more with less in a growing organization would be perfect skills for what we need now in Burlington…I’m very passionate about an economic future that allows you guys [students] to create your own lives, your own jobs, and your own opportunities

Kevin Curley: Republican

Curley, a life long Burlingtonian served on the City Council for eight years. During this time, Curley also sat on the Board of Finance. For the last two years he has headed the License Committee. He feels that his experience in local government makes him the most qualified candidate.

Vermont Cynic: What do you think of the off campus housing crunch particularly as the university expands?

Kevin Curley: The first thing I need to do is listen, We get conflicting messages in the community all the time, whether its to push the university to build more beds, or to build more affordable housing in the community…its listening to, what do you want…we really need to know, and to identify, what people want…There needs to be a total housing strategy.

VC: What is the main point of contention between students and Burlington residents and what are some possible solutions?

KC: What I’ve seen in the last two or three years, what I’m hearing from the community, what I’m hearing out of the neighborhoods, are very positive things, I know that a lot of this is just starting to take hold, so I don’t see doing anything any different other then fostering whats being done between the university and the residents now…that needs a chance to play itself out.

VC: Many students come to Vermont, obtain their degrees, and move to more economically viable locations to start their careers, is this as a problem? Any possible solutions?

KC: I don’t want to see folks come to Vermont get their diploma and then scatter…I want to create some opportunities to allow them to stay.

VC: Why, from the students’ perspective, would you be the best candidate?

KC: I think its because I would be fair, open, and honest in government, its truly going to be very transparent, I’m going to look to use the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies at the University of Vermont as an economic driver for the community… so I would think that the University of Vermont students would want to support my candidacy because I want to support their goals, I want to support their values, I want to support the opportunities that they like to have.”