Besides President Fogel’s improvement in the quality of UVM, what made you decide to come to Burlington? It is important to take a minute and think about the things that we have available to us and how those things could change with the election of our next leader.Burlington is a small city that offers local arts, music, culture, recreational opportunities and an excellent quality of life.The potential for these city attributes to become more available to us is reliant on good leadership and sound management. Our influence as students can be a crucial role in sustaining Burlington’s character.Given the information that was disseminated in UVM’s first Mayoral debate last Tuesday, the quality of leadership and clarity of platform is stronger for some candidates than it is for others.What differentiated the candidates was not their opinions on various challenges in Burlington. Though these judgments differ slightly, they were surprisingly in line. The main difference was in the demeanor and candor of the candidates as well as their approach to conveying their opinions to the students of UVM in attendance.Progressive Bob Kiss was well spoken and articulate, but visibly frustrated by the challenges to his leadership skills over the past several years. Democrat Andy Montroll was knowledgeable about the issues as well as moderate – but he was awkward and dry in his public speech. Independent Dan Smith, the youngest candidate, did a good job of connecting with students and seemed like a fresh and idealistic face in a crowd of “establishment” politicians. As a Republican, Kurt Wright is well liked in the liberal city of Burlington, but with more touchy issues we could see some discomfort in the “right of center” candidate. He is however, a candidate that offers valuable knowledge on the business environment of Burlington.With just a walk down Church Street, the economic downturn is becoming more and more visible. Businesses are closing because of the lack of support from our current leaders and their policies. Our tax rates are high in a tough economy, and that does not make Burlington the most ideal place to establish growth.As students, we need to remember that maintaining the prosperity of downtown Burlington is also important for our futures in securing employment. If a candidate is not going to be aggressive in achieving a strong economy for Burlington, we think it is time to rethink their ability to serve as a mayor of Burlington.It’s time for us as students to take a hard look at their platforms and be realists for what they plan to accomplish.