Politics

Write-in-Wright campaign, Redic announcement shake up Burlington council race

Kurt Wright
Burlington City Councilor Kurt Wright explains a resolution he proposed professing support for the Burlington Police Department during a City Council meeting on Sept. 23. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — A group of New North End residents are putting together a campaign to write in City Council President Kurt Wright, R-Ward 4, for re-election to his city council seat. 

The news comes as another candidate, Ericka Bundy Redic, announced that she is running for the seat as an independent. Redic briefly ran for the North District seat last year before dropping out and endorsing Democrat Franklin Paulino, who won the election. 

Sarah Carpenter, former executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, has received the endorsements of the Progressive and Democratic parties and is planning on caucusing with the Democrats. 

Wright announced in December that he would not seek re-election, citing his job as a co-host of a morning talk show on WVMT and concerns about federal equal time rules. 

Alex Farrell, a Ward 4 resident who ran unsuccessfully for a Chittenden County Senate seat in 2018 as a Republican, is leading the write-in effort with former school board member Mark Barlow. 

“Kurt’s party association has never really been what guided his decision-making, especially in the last decade,” Farrell said. “He’s always been sort of a steady, calm voice to keep the council on the level when things started to go array.” 

Farrell said the campaign will focus on distributing literature that encourages district residents to write in Wright. He said group members will be outside the polling place on Election Day, March 3, encouraging voters to support Wright. 

Farrell said he believes Wright’s long experience and name recognition give him a shot, even though Wright is not campaigning himself. 

“I think there’s a reasonable shot, of course; it’s more of a long shot as write-in, but he has a better chance than the typical write-in candidate,” Farrell said. 

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Wright has served on the council for 16 non-consecutive years and ran for mayor three times. He was the city’s only Republican legislator in Montpelier before losing his House seat to Democrat Bob Hooper in 2018. 

Wright said that he would “absolutely” serve if elected, but that he will not participate in the write-in campaign or candidate forums, or campaign door-to-door. He said that he believes the campaign had a chance to succeed, though it is a long shot. 

“I think that there is at least a chance in this case, just because I’m a current city councilor in this ward, City Council president and I’ve been around a long time, so I have some name recognition,” he said. “I think that adds some level of at least long-shot possibility to it.” 

VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. Photo by Josh Larkin.
Then-VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. File photo by Josh Larkin.

Wright said he has talked to WVMT leadership about the efforts and the FCC equal time regulations, but since he is not a candidate and not working with the campaign, they are not concerned. 

“We think we’re safe, but we’re going to be very careful to not use the show to push the write-in Wright campaign,” he said. “We’re not going to use that as a platform in any way or be talking about it.” 

Carpenter said that she was surprised to hear about the write-in-Wright campaign. 

“I’m surprised this approach is being taken,” she said. “It’s clearly awkward to have a non-candidate run, I’m not quite sure how you have a debate or conversations with a non-candidate.” 

Carpenter said that the write-in effort will not change her approach to her campaign in a major way. She said she has continued to knock on doors and meet voters even when it appeared she would be the only candidate in the race. 

Redic ran in 2019 as an independent against Paulino and Kienan Christianson, who ran as an independent with the Progressive endorsement. Redic, an accountant, dropped out of the race days before the election and endorsed Paulino. 

Redic said she was running as an independent and decided to run when she heard Wright would not. She said she had collected enough signatures to be on the ballot. 

Burlington City Council candidate Ericka Bundy Redic during her last campaign. Photo by Sophie MacMillan/VTDigger

She described herself as a conservative libertarian, and said public safety and taxes are two key issues for her. 

“I don’t hear anyone on City Council discussing the real problems that are facing Burlington residents, and that is taxes are out of control,” she said. “They are already out of control.” 

Redic said she opposes the three tax increases on the March ballot — the school budget increase, the public safety tax increase that will pay for an ambulance in the New North End and a charter change which would increase the tax that funds the city’s Housing Trust Fund. 

“If they want more money for the ambulance, which I agree they need, then they need to cut the budget somewhere else,” she said. 

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Aidan Quigley

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Ericka Redic

Thanks for the mention Aidan. I believe I said was I’m a liberal conservative – what some people would call a libertarian. Like many Vermonters I was raised to believe everyone gets to be who and what ever they want to be, as long as they aren’t encroaching on other peoples rights to do so. I value the Constitution and the Rights it protects. The price of liberalism is offense. A fair price to pay for those first amendment rights that allow me to be me, and you be you.

Marianne Ward

I very rarely vote Republican; often don’t appreciate Wright’s vote but, I believe he and other Repubs should be on the council for balance. Hate Burlington politics, we need term limits. It is not true that voters determine the limits. Just as in national politics voters keep incumbents in.

tom burke

As a lifelong democrat/independent in ward 4, there are only two republicans I have ever solidly supported: Fred Tuttle and Kurt Wright! From the time Kurt voted voted in the house to pass civil unions to his present dedication serving Burlington on city council and formerly in the state house, Kurt carefully weighs the issues and votes, not for headlines, but for our future. I wish he would run for mayor; however, I will be supporting him as a write in for city council.

Raplh Montefusco

This write-in campaign is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent our election laws.

John Shaplin

If he is elected I hope he keeps up his radio show and uses it to discuss and debate the City’s business. It’s also a good thing when politicians don’t stand too hard on one label or another because it often ends being confusing and even deceptive though that might not be the intent. Some ‘progressive’ ideas can be quite conservative and visa versa. Party politics is vital in a Democracy with diverse interests, everyone going off on their own don’t work but in the end waving the flag don’t solve problems, which might happen but only after the dust from campaigns and elections has settled.

Glenn Thompson

Lets just look no further than the Burlington City Council, where Wright was the only one with a brain capable of rational thought.

Paco Defrancis

Ericka Redic is a voice of principle and reason. She is what Ward 4 needs! Kurt has been in office for decades and has supported tax increase after tax increase. Time for a new direction that is focused on affordability, repealing needless regulations, centralizing and eliminating City bureaucracy and PROPERTY TAX RELIEF. Ericka is the woman for the job!!

Michael Long

I suspect that the equal opportunity section (315) of the Communications Act of 1934 — or the equal time rule — still applies.

It should not matter whether Wright promotes his candidacy on-air or campaigns actively in other venues. So long as he expects to serve if elected as a write-in, he is a candidate.

Other candidates are entitled under the law to equal airtime and would be wise to utilize the “equal opportunity.”

Voity Michael

If I still lived in Burlington I would vote for Kurt. If he doesn’t go back to the council, there will be a huge void in city politics that could not be so good for Burlington.

 

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