Tense Burlington City Council race becoming a referendum on police policy, controversial tweets

As the Burlington City Council Ward 3 special election contest heats up, one issue that is dominating all others is policing — or the lack of it on city streets.

The three candidates for the spot are Republican Christopher-Aaron Felker, Democrat Owen Milne, executive director of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center,  and Progressive Joe Magee, a former campaign staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Of the three, Felker has taken the most supportive position on policing. He has proposed increasing staff levels for police officers so the Burlington Police Department can meet recommended levels for sufficient coverage. In a recent radio appearance, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said low staff levels are inhibiting the ability to provide full 24-7 coverage.

As of early July, the city had 75 officers, but just 67 were available.

Last week in a social media post, Felker expressed disappointment that private businesses have been forced to hire out for security due to the reduction in police officers.

Magee, in contrast with the Republican candidate, has not shown support for the police. He recently retweeted a comment that Kiah Morris, a former state representative, offered about “an end to qualified immunity for police.”

On April 23, Magee tweeted “abolish the police.”

Milne is proposing major reforms to both policing and mental health services.

“As mentioned in the Police Transformation Plan described on the website, I would advocate for a merged department that includes the Police and Fire Department to establish a Department of Public Health and Safety,” he states on his campaign web site.

“One of the divisions that would be created under this department would be the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This division would be tasked with measuring factors like homelessness, drug-related deaths, instances of mental health crises, and other factors that measure our collective wellbeing,” Milne’s policing statement reads.

Sign stealing

Lawn signs from Felker’s campaign have been stolen and also torn up. Bradford Broyles, the campaign manager for the Felker for Ward 3 campaign, tweeted about an incident in which the perpetrator may have been identified.

The Secretary of State’s Office weighed in on the incident, saying theft and vandalism are crimes.

Broyles also said Felker was blocked from a local social media forum. According to the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats believe political censorship is commonplace in social media.

Milne has condemned the theft of his opponent’s campaign signs.

Other campaign issues

Magee, a self-described socialist and abolitionist, has focused his campaign on expanding social programs and services, such as further public assistance for housing. He also supports the creation of a statewide rental property registry.

Milne also put forth a proposal on housing policy reform, including the creation of a Housing Trust Fund.

“This Fund, exists for the purpose of providing grants and loans for development of low-income housing within the City of Burlington. With so many of our social and economic issues relating directly or indirectly to housing security, we should continue to find new revenues to invest in this Fund,” he wrote.

On the issue of diversity, Felker shared in a post how his experiences in the Navy helped him shape his views.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Burlington Police Department
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4 thoughts on “Tense Burlington City Council race becoming a referendum on police policy, controversial tweets

  1. Now Burlington is losing another anchor business, L L Bean, to the suburbs of Williston where there is ample free parking and MUCH lower chance of a shopper having their car broken into or being personally accosted on the street by vagrants and junkies. The reason for the move?…organized shoplifting. It seems that L L Bean in their capitalistic greed is not in business to provide donations to shoppers engaging in the “progressive model” of procuring their needed goods. Now we can await the excuses by members of the marxist City Council on why LL Bean was not a “good fit”, after 7 years in Burlington. That stalwart of Burlington’s extreme right wing, democrat Mayor Weinberger can only sit by and watch as the City Council turns Burlington into their vision of a socialist utopia. What sane person would bring their 10-year old child shoe shopping there? Republican Christopher-Aaron Felker is the last hope for turning that around.

  2. The reason Burlington and the greater Chittenden County communities are the way they are – Bernie Sanders, Pete Clavell, Leopold, et al. An area that was once an economic engine for the State is nothing more than a money sucking tick on the hindend of the State. Yet this region and their bureaucrats dictate and influence every facet of life for the rest of this small State. Central Vermont is now getting as bad and unaffordable as Chittendent County. For a State of roughly 660K documented citizens, we are essentially bankrupt and no amount of CCP money funnelled through City Halls and the State House is going to save this State from insolvency. Communist/Marxist ideology is failure – there are no examples on this planet to contradict that fact.

  3. With respect to Burlington’s housing issues Messer’s Milne and Magee (them) continue to propose ideas suggesting their faith in government action as the solution to such problems. Mr. Aaron-Felker has suggests that citizens’ entrepreneurial creativity, unleashed by removing regulatory/zoning barriers, would ignite a North End renascence. Government can nurture citizens’ enterprise as well as crush it. You know he’s right.

  4. Burlington and especially Ward 3 needs Christopher-Aaron Felker to help bring
    back some sanity to the City.

    Burlington’s Circus Act ” aka ” City council, need someone to bring some common
    sense with and conservative values,

    Burlington homeowners how do you like your 2021 ” tax bill your money is needed by
    the city to cover the deficits from liberal foolishness……wake up people, it’s our city !!

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