The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Shannon and Mulvaney-Stanak debate at UVM

State+representative+Emma+Mulvaney-Stanak+and+city+councilor+Joan+Shannon+participated+in+a+Burlington+mayoral+debate+in+the+Davis+Center+Livak+Ballroom+Feb.15
Andrew Gould
State representative Emma Mulvaney-Stanak and city councilor Joan Shannon participated in a Burlington mayoral debate in the Davis Center Livak Ballroom Feb.15

State Representative Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (P) and City Councilor Joan Shannon (D) met Feb. 15 for a mayoral debate at UVM.

The event was hosted by United Academics and UVM Staff United in the Livak Ballroom of the Davis Center from 5-6:30 p.m. Candidates were asked pre-prepared and audience-written questions, some of which covered the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Burlington housing market and F-35s in Burlington.

Calls for ceasefire

After both candidates provided opening statements, candidates were asked why they had not called for a ceasefire to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine. 

Mulvaney-Stanak said she had called for a bilateral ceasefire which she believed was the only way to create peace. Mulvaney-Stanak said she believes in the direct democracy process and that the community needs to have deeper conversations on these critical issues.

Shannon said she was against antisemitism and that she also supports a bilateral negotiated ceasefire. She said that while she was initially planning to vote yes to including an item covering the conflict on the ballot, she ultimately voted against it because she was persuaded that it would cause harm to a local minority.

Candidates were asked how they would divest Burlington’s money from Israel.

“That’s not something that we’ve been asked to do and I’m not aware of what money in Burlington is invested at this time,” Shannon said. “I don’t support taxpayer funds going to this war.” 

Shannon said she supported aid for Ukraine and that she thought it was unfortunate that aid for Israel and Ukraine are bound together.

Mulvaney-Stanak said she’d want to understand what the options are and how much is invested, as well as how the city has been working with the federal delegation. 

“I think we need a critical eye when it comes to things like Ukraine,” said Mulvaney-Stanak. “I’ll say as a state legislator, that sailed through the legislature but we’ve never raised the same level of concern and funding and connection with Black and brown countries around the world.”

F-35s in Burlington

Candidates were asked, “F-35s are being used in Israel’s offensive against Gaza, and F-35s in Burlington are causing hearing, learning and mental health impacts due to the noise toxicity. If you become the mayor of Burlington, what will you do to stop these impacts?”

Mulvaney-Stanak said she opposed the F-35s and is anti-war. She also said that there are other options than F-35s.

“I spent five minutes on Google and found other municipal airports have a different financial arrangement,” Mulvaney-Stanak said.

Shannon said that she had been against having F-35s in Burlington; however, she also supported the airport and the economy and said it was critical to get military contribution. 

“Could we have gotten something different? Yes. Something better? I don’t think that there’s reason to believe that,” Shannon said.

Unions

Candidates were asked, “How can labor unions in our community be better supported by the legislature and by employers, and as mayor, how would you work to support unions in achieving their goals?” 

Shannon said she has worked with and been endorsed by the four city unions representing municipal workers, that public safety is crucial, and that the city has a problem with wealth disparity.

Mulvaney-Stanak said that she has a proud union involvement history, has pushed to establish livable wages and served on the city’s pension task force.

University’s relationship with Burlington

Candidates were asked, “What do you see as the key issues between UVM and the city of Burlington?” 

Mulvaney-Stanak said housing impacts are a key issue and that UVM needs a cap on student enrollment. 

“I think the phrase is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior,” Mulvaney-Stanak said.

Shannon said she wouldn’t hold a firm line on an enrollment cap, but wants the University to demonstrate that it will improve the housing situation.

“We need to have a conversation that’s beneficial not just to UVM and their ability to have the enrollment that they need to make UVM viable, but also our community to assure that there’s housing, not just for students, but for faculty,” Shannon said. 

Candidates were asked, “From your point of view as a future mayor, how could UVM take a more active role in addressing the challenges Burlington is facing, including a shortfall of affordable housing, a shortage of child care, continuing cuts to public transportation, the opioid crisis and the increase in violent crime?” 

Mulvaney-Stanak said she advocates for more of a working relationship between UVM and the city of Burlington, and that the city needs to do better in regard to our employment and wage standards.

Shannon said she hopes to integrate the UVM and Burlington transportation system with common interests in safety and security, and on the topic of opioids, said the city needs to rely on and shift to more current data as drugs change, as well as providing safe injection sites. 

Mulvaney-Stanak said Burlington needs a better transportation system that would be workable and easy to use. 

She said safety concerns at UVM about sexual assault are growing, that UVM has more comprehensive police understanding and safety practices and that we need better community engagement and to make involvement more accessible.

Housing affordability

Candidates were asked how they would address housing affordability as mayor. 

Mulvaney-Stanak said that the city needs to look at both renters and homeowners, as well as rent stabilization. She said that housing is a human right. 

Shannon said that housing costs for those who need mortgages have gone up by 300% between 2019 and 2024, while the overall price of housing has gone up 85%. Shannon said Burlington needs more home-ownership, which is inaccessible right now, and that the bottom line is more housing.

Public forum and ballot measures

Candidates were asked, “How will you ensure that the democratic process is respected going forward, including both the public forum and putting ballot measures on the ballot?” 

Shannon said that the city council allows for public conversation and that voicing opinions is important, but that there is also a point where it becomes untimely. 

Mulvaney-Stanak said the city needs to slow down and expand the process, and needs a user-friendly way to engage and provide feedback.

Shannon said that the community should use other avenues than the public forum and that the system needs to be more accessible.

After answering questions, both candidates had the opportunity to offer summations. 

Shannon highlighted her goals to rebuild the Burlington Police Department and aid in mental health, medical and housing concerns. Shannon said that all four city unions endorsed her, that she felt that housing was a crucial issue and that there is a need to improve public transport and housing at UVM. 

Mulvaney-Stanak said that she has an inclusive vision for Burlington. She said that the city needs to respond to climate change, and that it needs to respond to community safety issues with a comprehensive system that includes short and long term solutions, and that there isn’t just one entity to solve safety issues, such as the police force.

Shannon and Mulvaney-Stanak will appear along with Independents Will Emmons and Chris Haessly on the March 5 Town Meeting Day ballot.

 

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About the Contributor
Andrew Gould, News Editor
(He/him) Andrew Gould is a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Springfield, VT. He started at the Cynic as a news reporter. In high school, Andrew worked for and later ran his school’s audio/visual production team. In his free time, Andrew enjoys running, skiing and photography. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Andrew.