Weinberger celebrates victory but acknowledges tough road ahead


Allison Ouellette

Mayor Miro Weinberger delivers his victory speech inside the Echo Leahy Center for Lake Champlain March 3.

Mayor Miro Weinberger held onto his spot as the leader of Burlington, pushing back against a tide of Progressive wins years in the making in the Queen City. 

After winning by less than 1% and garnering less than 50% of the total vote, Weinberger declared victory at the ECHO Center on the edge of Lake Champlain, March 2.

Standing in front of a slew of reporters and cameras, Weinberger thanked his campaign, his family and congratulated the other candidates on a well-fought race. As Weinberger enters his fourth term in office, the results from Tuesday night reflect a divided Burlington. 

“There is some real disagreement,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back at that big U-shaped table where we put behind us tough contested elections and we roll up our sleeves and we work hard and find a way to keep making progress even if there is a difference of opinion.”

Exactly half of the wards went to Weinberger with the other half going to Tracy. Weinberger garnered 42.99% of the vote, beating out Tracy’s 42.09%.

Last year, Progressives gained control of the Burlington City Council by flipping key wards and unseating incumbent, Democratic, councilors in Wards 1 and 8. Tracy, having been re-elected to the council last Town Meeting Day, has served as president of the council for nearly a year. 

Since the swearing-in of new Progressive councilors in the spring of 2020, the council has stood divided, largely along party lines, when it comes to issues around policing and racial justice, for nearly a year now. 

Despite the close margins, Weinberger told the crowd that Tracy had conceded to him in a phone call earlier that evening and that the city council president is looking forward to working alongside the mayor. 

“Earlier tonight I received a very gracious call from City Council President Max Tracy congratulating me on winning a fourth term, acknowledging the strength of the city’s pandemic response,” Weinberger said. “And expressing his desire to work collaboratively for the people of Burlington in our continued service together.”

In his fourth term, Weinberger will have to navigate a divided city council made up of six Progressives, four Democrats and now two independents with the election of Mark Barlow in Burlington’s North District Tuesday night. 

“I think the results indicate that we have hard work to do to forge a consensus on some key issues of public safety, housing and how we move forward with racial justice,” Weinberger said. 

Much of the disagreement Weinberger has faced during his most recent term has centered around his track record with policing.

A 2019 report issued by the Burlington Police Department shows they disproportionately use force on Black residents, according to a December 2019 VTDigger article.

In September of last year, the Burlington City Council came to a separation agreement with one of three officers that were accused of using excessive force, according to a Sept. 22 VTDigger article. 

The department faced further criticism under Weinberger’s time as mayor after three brothers filed a lawsuit against the department in May 2019 for excessive force after body camera footage showed officers pushing and tackling the men.

Weinberger emphasized that he has always tried to lead by listening and building consensus, and looks forward to continuing that in the future.

When asked about the decline of his popularity with Burlington residents since he was first elected in 2012, Weinberger said that sometimes the job gets tougher as it goes on. 

“In some ways, the longer you’re in office, the more experienced, the better at the job you get —  it just always gets tougher,” Weinberger said. “You have to make a lot of challenging decisions over the course for almost a decade and sometimes those decisions don’t break the right way and they are polarizing.”

In terms of charting his relationship with Burlington Progressives and independents in the coming years, Weinberger said that tonight they got off to a good start.

“Both President Tracy and I expressed our mutual respect and appreciation for each other, we’ve known each other for a decade, worked with each other for a decade. We both want to continue to work together,” Weinberger said. “I certainly am very committed to collaboration and seeking to find consensus and that’s what I heard from President Tracy as well.”