Sign & Support the Burlington People's Platform

Rights & Democracy’s People’s Platform is a statewide effort to unify our shared values and vision for a healthier and more inclusive Vermont that lifts up ALL voices and people. This Burlington-centric platform is designed to lift up issues that break down structural oppression and create a society that empowers all of the Queen City residents.


For three decades, Burlington was at the forefront of municipally-led activism that put people and the planet before short-term profits. City officials - led by progressive Mayors Bernie Sanders and Peter Clavelle - partnered with nonprofit organizations, citizens, and employee-owned companies and cooperatives to build a resilient local economy that has become a model for other communities around the country. In the wake of several political and economic shakeups in the mid-2000s, neoliberal politicians began gaining ground on the city council and pushing a pro-privatization, pro-development agenda. This culminated with the election of Democratic mayor Miro Weinberger in 2012. Despite promises to live up to the legacy of his predecessors, the current mayor has undermined citizen input and collaboration, and has used the failures of his immediate predecessor to walk back Burlington’s commitments to lower- and middle-income families, and has abandoned our city's core value of placing people at the center of policy decisions.


With this historical lens in place, we believe that the city of Burlington is at a moment in time where a movement is building to return to our shared vision and values that center interconnected issues of racial bias, structural inequality, gentrification, privatization of public assets, demolition of 200 affordable homes and severely degraded health and safety in thousands more affordable homes near the Burlington-owned airport, and the devaluing our public schools and public spaces.


Below are common ideas that Rights & Democracy is seeking to pursue as part of community campaign to champion issues that benefit everyone in Burlington, not just the wealthy.  We will ask candidates running for election in March to support these values, and to join with us in shaping a more inclusive, just and equitable city. It will only be possible for us to win the changes that we seek if we can act as a unified coalition.


11 signatures



  • Just & Fairly Funded Public Education - Education should be at the center of community’s future success, but in recent years school budgets and teachers, have come under increasing attack by state and federal budget cuts and politicians.  As a city we should reverse these harmful trends by:

    • Enacting a temporary moratorium on municipal bonding in deference to necessary school investments.

    • Re-examining the PILOT funds that were stripped away from our schools to see how they can support students & families.

    • Examining impacts of bias and racial inequity, i.e. the school to prison pipeline.

    • Expanding universal pre-K throughout the city of Burlington.

    • Supporting Early Childhood Education and Care throughout the city of Burlington.

    • Examining if state funding formula systemically underfunds Burlington and its support for low-income students, students with disabilities, and New Americans.

    • Examine a more equitable funding of education - at the state level.


  • Just & Livable Housing - In the past decade, housing in Burlington has become increasingly unaffordable for everyone. A Housing as a Human Right Campaign could champion the following ideas:

    • Mandating just cause for any evictions.

    • Recognizing homelessness as a housing status (not criminal behavior).

    • Strengthen inclusionary zoning by increasing the costs to build off-site to allow for more units to be built.

    • Allow for sanctioned encampments.

    • Shelter and supported housing for LGBTQ homeless youth

    • Enacting Rent stabilization laws - capping rent increases between tenants

    • Making sure that TIF dollars in Burlington districts available to subsidize rental projects as housing is a key infrastructure, and not just used for commercial development.  

    • Enacting a Luxury Housing Tax for sales of high-end condos and homes - use to invest in Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund.

    • A one penny on property tax toward Burlington Housing Trust was devalued in late 90s - bring that back up to 1 penny, or double it.

    • End purchase and demolition of any more affordable homes in South Burlington around the Burlington International Airport, and address impact that ongoing expansion at the Burlington International Airport, including the potential arrival of F-35s, will on existing affordable housing stock.

    • An occupancy fee of $2 a night per room, citywide for hotels, B&Bs and AirBnB rentals, dedicated to support Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund.


  • Human Rights Budgeting - Budgets can be complex, but they have real-life consequences on how we invest in our neighborhoods. Residents should have a greater say in how their tax dollars are spent to ensure that the human needs of our community are being met throughout the city, and that tax dollars are invested fairly and responsibly.

    • Citizen budget councils should be created with intent and involve ALL of the city’s constituencies and diverse population. This would mean providing translation services, holding meetings during the day (or online) for seniors and others who can’t attend night meetings, etc.

    • $15 dollar an hour minimum wage for all businesses operating in the City of Burlington.


  • Energy Democracy - While Burlington is ahead of much of the country in mitigating our impact on the planet, we are still behind our own targets, and we are still behind where climate scientists say we must be to avoid climate disaster. We need to commit to meet all of our power, heating, and cooling needs from renewable sources in order to achieve a Net Zero Community by 2028.

    • Our electricity is coming from renewable sources, but our transportation and heating are not.

    • Use McNeil Generating Station’s waste heat to create a municipal, or cooperatively owned, district heating utility for the Old North End residences, and downtown businesses. This utility would capture all waste heat throughout the district.

    • Reexamine energy sources to be local, resilient, and sustainable and also from publicly owned utilities and sources.

    • Incentives for households to install low-use lights, faucets, toilets to reduce overall impact on the natural world.

    • Examine special fees for travel in and out of Burlington for investment in free public transit services.

    • Refuse to allow military jets at Burlington’s airport that burn vast quantities of fossil fuels.


  • Green & Net Positive Infrastructure - We live in an interconnected world where our choices of individual lifestyle, food choices, along with our public infrastructure investments, have an impact on the global ecosystem. Embracing a new system of economic and ecological thinking that addresses the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soil in which we grow our food is increasing necessary to become a truly resilient community.

    • Drinkable, Swimmable Water

      • Agricultural & homeowner runoff prevention

      • Green Stormwater Infrastructure included in all street upgrades

        • Subsidies for people who follow a netzero model on their property, resulting in zero stormwater runoff through the reduction of impermeable surfaces and other measures.

    • Healthy Soils

      • Promote citywide reduction of pesticide use, and promote neighborhood biodiversity through gardens and better use of greenbelts to grow wildflowers, hedges and tree cover for birds and pollinators.

      • Curbside composting combined with credit toward finished compost being delivered back to the home to be used in soils.

    • Breathable Air

      • Increase use of pollinator species plants in our parks.

      • Additional tree cover throughout the city.

      • See electric buses and reduced downtown SOV transport.

      • Additional bike lanes, bike paths, walkable streets, roundabouts to eliminate stop lights and idling.


  • Participatory Governance - Burlington has had a long-standing practice of citizen-led initiatives. Citizen Boards have been reduced in number, size and influence over time, and reversing this trend will both strengthen the community voice and bring back the enthusiasm for civic engagement. Burlington should foster ways to increase resident participation in the ongoing decision-making process by:

    • Empowering NPAs to have a more formal role with the City Council to vet and debate new policies, regulations, and initiatives.

    • Empowering Department Commissions to have greater oversight of city departments, including the hiring and firing of department heads.

    • A city-wide entity of the NPA model could be created to serve as an umbrella organizing component to expand, not replace, the current autonomous NPA model.

    • Promote and actively support net neutrality, digital inclusion, and other initiatives to close the digital divide among the people Burlington to ensure an open and free internet.

    • Support and provide resources to ensure a robust public access media that informs about issues and ensures all voices are heard.

    • Expand airport governance so thousands of citizens in neighboring towns who are severely adversely affected by Burlington airport military jet decisions have a say.


  • Fair & Just Development - Burlington needs to embrace a development focus that is human-centered and gives preferential development and tax incentives for infill growth that fosters an economy based on democratic ownership principles – as in cooperatives, ESOP companies, etc to expand and fill existing office space, as well as contributes to expanded green infrastructure, net zero energy goals, and other items of this People’s Platform.

    • City spending preferences to companies that have union employees, that can show an end to gender bias with data showing equal pay for equal work, that have a $15 minimum wage, and that provide health care for employees and their families.

    • Support micro-business development that supports people starting their own businesses in Burlington, or growing an existing business.

    • Enact a Fair Development Assessment Tool to ensure that all projects are evaluated through a human rights lens.

    • Moratorium on private redevelopment of public spaces. Projects that need public funding, or redevelop public spaces, should not be approved without full, citywide vote.

    • City ordinances require new development must include NPA engagement. The same could be required for major change in usability status on public-owned assets.


  • Health Care Justice - Burlington should be at forefront of a statewide transformation of the mental health and substance abuse treatment system by encouraging a comprehensive accessible continuum of care that includes:

    • Treating the addiction crisis as a public health crisis - Creating safe injection sites and expanding needle drop-off locations.

    • Additional low-barrier shelters should also be created to provide people access to safe housing and treatment counselors.

    • Supporting the maintenance of accessible locations for outpatient and inpatient treatment throughout the city.

    • Easy access for ongoing medical care, check-up appointments for low-income and seniors. Bring the doctors to them, not the other way around.


  • Bias-Free Policing - With data showing racial bias in police interactions, as well as the shooting deaths of people in mental health crisis, the city must address how the city’s police interacts with marginalized populations, including new Americans and people of color.

    • Address the over-criminalization of minor, civic offenses, including expungement of records

    • Creation of an independent citizen commission dedicated to enforcing bias free policing


  • Public Transit - Burlington’s public transit system needs additional investment in bike lanes, walking paths, electric buses, and bus routes must include stops that are walkable distances for the aging and young families and provide consistent wait times (and times between stops, i.e, every route is 15 minutes within the city). Ideas, include:

    • Investments from BED into electric buses.

    • Routes must serve walkable distances for the aging and young families throughout the entire city.

    • Wait times across the city should be consistent and predictable.

    • Expansion of free routes within the city limits.

    • Seamless coordination and improved synchronization of routes for people, especially seniors, to access medical specialists in neighboring communities.

    • Better weekend coverage across the system.


  • Expand Burlington’s Livable Wage Law - We need to lift up more of the city’s workers in the sector. Burlington should be leading the discussion on a true livable wage for all workers—from retail to home care and beyond. We need to ensure that people who work in Burlington can afford to live here.


  • Accessibility for All - Burlington should re-commit to maintaining an accessibility committee to ensure that Americans with Disabilities Act — an important Civil Rights law – is upheld in city policies and practices, as well as throughout the city by businesses that provide the public accommodation.

    • Strategic redevelopment and repurposing of public and private spaces to make them more accessible to the public should be a baseline requirement of all redevelopment projects.


Open and Fair Elections - Much has changed and/or been exposed as a result of the 2016 election cycle. We need to be driving changes in Federal and State election policy and practices.

  • Redistricting is a Civil Rights matter. Candidates who succeed in 2018 should be well versed in Redistricting preparation. While, it is conceivable that we need not redraw the lines, it is likely that a study of shifts in population densities within the city will reveal changes between wards.

  • Vermont's public campaign finance system is broken and needs to be replaced. Burlington should review adoption of the Seattle Democracy Voucher program.

Will you sign?

  • signed via 2017-12-08 14:05:33 -0500
  • signed via 2017-12-06 08:41:19 -0500
    Chris Staats
  • signed 2017-12-05 21:45:50 -0500
  • signed via 2017-12-05 21:12:34 -0500
    Julia Curry
  • signed 2017-12-05 20:45:32 -0500
  • signed 2017-12-05 20:44:15 -0500
  • signed 2017-12-05 17:49:56 -0500
  • signed via 2017-12-05 17:16:42 -0500
  • @ShayTotten tweeted link to this page. 2017-12-05 17:02:46 -0500
  • signed 2017-12-05 17:02:03 -0500
  • posted about this on Facebook 2017-12-05 16:46:42 -0500
    I'm in for a livable and fair future for #BTV You too? If so, sign & Support the Burlington People's Platform
  • @crankycakes tweeted link to this page. 2017-12-05 16:46:39 -0500
    I'm in for a livable and fair future for #BTV You too? If so, sign & Support the Burlington People's Platform
  • signed 2017-12-05 16:45:32 -0500
    I’m in!


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