BURLINGTON — James Lockridge, executive director of the local music incubator Big Heavy World, says he will run for the Ward 3 City Council seat.
Lockridge said his recent push to preserve the music venue 242 Main as part of the redevelopment of Memorial Auditorium has led him to believe Burlington’s current leadership is out of sync with values of “equity, transparency and representation.”
As an example, Lockridge pointed to Mayor Miro Weinberger’s attempt to develop the Memorial Auditorium block with the University of Vermont for a sports stadium, without first asking residents if that’s what they wanted.
“Rather than be disappointed, I’m inclined to be an optimist and to take what I have to offer” and apply it to a run for City Council, Lockridge said. The former radio host and nonprofit leader says he will run as an independent.
Though Town Meeting Day is six months away, an interesting Ward 3 race is already taking shape. Several people have told VTDigger that current Ward 3 City Councilor, Sara Giannoni, is unlikely to pursue a second term, which she would not confirm.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Giannoni said Friday, “I’m not ready.”
City Council races do not typically heat up until closer to March. The petitions and paperwork to run for City Council aren’t available yet at City Hall.
Brian Pine, who held the Ward 3 seat in the 1990s, said he’s “seriously considering” a bid to represent his Old North End neighborhood. Pine spent nearly two decades with the city’s Community Economic Development Office, serving under three different mayors.
Pine is currently a financing consultant for the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
Both Giannoni and Pine are Progressives. Pine said he will not run if Giannoni seeks another term. Pine also left open the possibility that were he to run he would seek both the Progressive and Democratic Party nominations.
“My process is a lot of conversations with folks over the fall, and before the holidays kick in to reach a conclusion,” Pine said.
Lockridge said Giannoni’s plans won’t have any bearing on his run. He said he called her several months ago to let her know he would be seeking her seat. It’s important for him to get an early start, he said, because he’s not planning to seek support from the city’s political parties.
Pine and Lockridge have known each other a long time and the two are friendly. When Lockridge unsuccessfully sought a City Council seat in 2005, Pine helped with his campaign. The two serve on a board together, and Pine’s son was intern with Big Heavy World.
Pine said he has “great respect” for Lockridge, and Lockridge said if Pine runs, he would represent “supportable values.” Still, both men said differences on specific issues would likely emerge should they compete for the seat.
Shay Totten, a Ward 3 resident and former political columnist for Seven Days, said he thinks a Pine versus Lockridge race would be among the most compelling in Burlington’s recent history.
“I think with Jim and Brian, it’s going to be really two people who care deeply about the city. I don’t know how divergent their visions are going to be, so it’s going to be a very competitive City Council race,” said Totten, who is now a spokesperson for the advocacy group Rights and Democracy.
Totten said Pine, whose wife Liz Curry serves on the school board, is well known in the ward, having been involved with Little League and other community activities.
“He is someone with an encyclopedic memory of everyone in the neighborhood plus their families,” he said. “The guy is a walking phonebook of people in Burlington.”
Totten said Lockridge is hardworking and passionate, bringing a different perspective gleaned from his deep ties to the city’s arts community.
“This could be a good old fashioned real city council race, with two people well known people in the ward,” Totten said. That, he added, would be a good thing for the neighborhood.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the nature of Burlington’s now abandoned plans to build a stadium on the Memorial Auditorium block with the University of Vermont.