Mayoral hopefuls face off at debate


Meg Trogolo, Staff Senior

Students cheered and jeered while Burlington’s three mayoral candidates debated campaign issues in the Davis Center during an SGA-sponsored event.

Candidate Infinite Culcleasure was at the UVM Medical Center while his partner gave birth and sent campaign representative Fareed Munasryah. Mayor Miro Weinberger and candidate Carina Driscoll were both present.

The student vote isn’t always important, but the turnout showed students understand the impact, Weinberger said.

The candidates have been active on campus leading up to the election. Culcleasure made appearances at recent student protests.

Sophomore Reginah Mako, chair of SGA diversity and inclusion committee, and senior Will Sudbay, SGA chair of legislative and community affairs, moderated.

Munasryah said the city government often makes a “false distinction” between the needs of UVM students and those of other Burlington residents. City Hall must “include all stakeholders,” he said.

“There is a perception of UVM students as rich and spoiled brats, when most of them are hardworking people,” he said.

The Burlington residents Driscoll spoke with on the campaign trail unfairly blamed high rent prices on students, she said.

“[UVM and the city of Burlington] go hand-in-hand. Students are often scapegoated for rising rents. Every chance I get, I defend you,” Driscoll said.

Weinberger defended his administration’s policies over the past six years.  He mentioned a partnership between city government and the Champlain Housing Trust, a nonprofit which builds affordable housing in the Burlington area.

Munasryah said Weinberger’s administration has focused too much on building high-income and middle-income housing.

Culcleasure’s campaign has focused heavily on low-income housing and shelter for Burlington’s homeless population.

“Housing is a human right,” Munasryah said.

Weinberger’s administration has allowed private developers to build too many luxury apartments instead of affordable housing, Driscoll said.

Driscoll suggested setting aside spaces in which homeless people can build sanctioned encampments.

Weinberger is a Democrat, while Driscoll and Culcleasure are both Independents.

Driscoll has the endorsement of the Progressive Party.

The UVM Democrats have endorsed Weinberger, while the UVM Progressives have endorsed Culcleasure.