Burlington Councilman Mulls Independent Bid

After back-to-back tight losses in the Democratic primaries, this Burlington councilman appears ready to run for mayor as an independent. Current independent Congressman Bernie Sanders got his political start as mayor of Burlington in 1981.

City Councilman Andy Montroll, who lost the Democratic nomination for Burlington mayor to Hinda Miller last week, 550-511, said Thursday he is giving thought to running as an independent.

“A number of people have been asking me about this,” he said. “I haven’t dismissed it; nor have I decided I’m moving forward with it. It’s a big decision.”

Montroll lost the Democratic nomination in 2002 to Mayor Peter Clavelle by a vote of 94-89, and he said that “obviously a lot of Progressives” appeared this year at the Democratic caucus to vote for Miller. That was the second time his hopes were dashed in part by a Progressive crossover vote.

In 2002, Clavelle, a Progressive, won the endorsements of both Progressives and Democrats. Clavelle then ran for governor in 2004 as a Democrat.

“That’s a reality,” Montroll said of the Progressive support for Miller. He added that it wouldn’t be a factor as he decides whether to run as an independent.

A Montroll candidacy would make predictions about an ultimate winner more complicated. Miller, Republican Kevin Curley and Progressive Bob Kiss are running as major party candidates, with Green Party candidate Loyal Ploof and independent Ion Laskaris also in the race.

The mayor’s race will be decided this year for the first time by instant run-off voting. The system allows voters to rank the candidates. If no one wins a majority in the first round, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is eliminated and the second choice of their supporters is added to the totals of the remaining candidates. That continues until one candidate gathers a majority of the votes.

Montroll, who represents Ward 6, said he hasn’t calculated whether instant run-off voting would work in his favor.

He said his natural inclination is to “respect” the caucus decision for Miller but added that if he ran he didn’t think it would be hurtful to city Democrats.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Sullivan said she would be “very disappointed” if he ran.

“I specifically asked the candidates beforehand if they would abide by the wishes of the caucus,” she said, “and they both said they would.” She said an independent run by Montroll wouldn’t “be a good idea” for the party “or a good idea for Burlington.”

Her remarks were echoed by Democratic State Party Chairman Ian Carleton, the Burlington City Council president.

“Less than a month ago, Andy Montroll looked me in the eye and promised me he would abide by the will of the Democratic caucus,” Carleton said. “I would be utterly shocked if he goes back on those commitments. To do so would be a terrible mistake on his part, in addition to a broken promise.”

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Miller, calling from Interstate 89 on her way back to Burlington after a legislative session. “If it’s true, I’m surprised and disappointed because we both made a pledge we would support the Dem candidate coming out of the caucus. That’s all I have to say,” she said.

Jo LaMarche, the city’s director of elections, said that to appear on the ballot a candidate must submit 150 signatures of registered city voters to the City Clerk’s Office by 5 p.m. Jan. 30.

“It’s not a maybe candidacy,” Montroll said. “It’s more that people are asking, and I haven’t made a decision one way or the other.”

3 Responses to “Burlington Councilman Mulls Independent Bid”

  1. The Girondin Says:

    One wonders why the Libertarian Party cannot do in liberty-minded New Hampshire what Sanders and the Progressives are doing in democratic-socialist Vermont…

  2. Otto Kerner Says:

    I suspect the answer is about 40% mismanagement and lack of a big-picture view by the New Hampshire LP, and 40% the fact that libertarianism is practically-speaking a tougher sell than Sandersian semi-socialism. The other 20% is just dumb luck that things came together the right way for the Sanders faction.

    It’s also worth noting that Sanders is basically on the outs with the Vermont Progressives, despite the fact that they were originally his supporters. Sanders is a crypto-Democrat now, an Independent-In-Name-Only.

  3. H. Ryan Says:

    There are currently 4 candidates who have declared candidacy for the Mayor’s office here in Burlington (the largest city in Vermont):
    Hinda Miller - Democrat - hindaformayor.com
    Kevin Curley - Republican - kevincurley.org
    Loyal Ploof - Green - (site taken down)
    Ion Laskaris - Independent - ionrevusa.com

    It will be a very interesting election, especially since the City is starting the Instant Runoff Voting process for the mayoral candidates:

    On a side note, another race in Burlington is also starting to look interesting as well, in one of the largest Wards, there are 4 candidates for a City Council seat in Ward 7, including a Libertarian Candidate - www.jeremyryan.org

    ~ Heavenly

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