December 1, 2008, WPTZ
Kiss Looking To Stay In Office
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The race for mayor of Vermont's largest city gets under way this week, with formal announcements from two challengers who hope to oust first-term incumbent Bob Kiss.
Burlington Mayor Gears Up Re-election Bid
Independent Dan Smith, 33, is a lawyer currently on leave from his job as vice-president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation. Smith has never run for elective office, though his father, Peter Smith, was Vermont's Republican lieutenant governor and Congressman in the 1980s.
Smith says, "Economic development and luring new jobs into downtown" are top issues. He has lived in Burlington for six years and says he has raised between $15,000 and $20,000 for his campaign. Smith holds a kickoff rally and fundraiser Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Red Square on Church Street.
On Wednesday, Ward 6 City Councilor Andy Montroll says he expects to formally enter the race at the conclusion of the city's Democratic caucus, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Champlain Elementary School. Montroll, 51, narrowly lost his bid for the Democratic mayoral nomination in 2006.
Republican city council President and state Rep. Kurt Wright says he, too, is leaning toward a campaign for mayor but "needs to speak with a couple more people" and promised a final decision by the end of the week. Wright, 52, ran for mayor in 1999 and lost to incumbent Peter Clavelle.
Both Wright and Montroll criticized Kiss' personal and management style over the last three years. "He's a really nice guy but he's not shown the leadership or vision people expect of the mayor of Burlington," Montroll said. "I want to be a really pro-active mayor."
Wright added, "I think you do need someone who has a personality and is engaging."
But Kiss said he would vigorously defend his record, believing he's delivered in promises made in 2006 to manage the city's budget morass and deliver more responsive city government. He also pointed to progress on the Moran redevelopment project on the waterfront and aggressive efforts to improve city streets.
"Look at all the accolades Burlington gets," Kiss said. "I think we're doing as well or better than any city in the United States."
Kiss, 61, plans a re-election announcement on or soon after the Progressive Party caucus Dec. 14.
Burlington's new system of instant runoff voting, first used in the 2006 mayoral election, makes early predictions difficult, political analysts say.
But Wright said IRV offers "a path to victory" for a Republican in the Queen City, where the mayor's office has been occupied by left-leaning progressives virtually continuously since 1981.
IRV allows voters to rank candidates by their first, second and third choice.
In the event no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote on the first tally, the candidate with the poorest showing is eliminated and his voters' "second choice" candidate is awarded his votes. The tally is then recalculated until someone receives a 50 percent majority and becomes the winner.
The city election is March 3, 2009.