Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask, why not?!
— Robert F. Kennedy

Why should I run for re-election?

Two years ago, I pointed to my experience as a community volunteer, organizer and activist, a former city councilor, and former city attorney – trying to do the hard work of bringing people together and making government work for average working people – as reasons people asked me to run.

It has been an interesting 2 years as a councilor. My experience and work has allowed me to get some things done but I’m sorry that it has been far too limited under Miro, especially after losing two Progressive council seats.

Two years ago I said Burlington has an affordability crisis, with high housing costs and increased property taxes.

But I also said affordability is also about public health and safety—what and how we spend, the cost of houselessness, addiction, crime, and how we transform our services to provide a healthy and safe community.

And I said it is about our aged infrastructure and the existential threat of climate change.

I have tried to address each part of this issue as a councilor, knowing that there has not been the appetite for major change from Miro or the majority of the council but constantly willing to push and to join with people to increase the space of what is possible and what is acceptable. I hope you will go further into this website for the details.

At the heart of my service is this: We can have a city government that stands up and works for the people—not just the privileged few. A City government that works especially hard for the most vulnerable and those who have suffered at the hands of systems that have at best ignored their needs and at worst have discriminated against and exploited them.

We can have a city government that commits to a vigorous community, ecological and economic agenda, that dismantles systemic racism, and that expresses our fundamental values of solidarity, empathy, kindness and respect.

Together, only together, can we can we create the city we need and deserve. But know this: we are not alone. We have councilors and candidates willing to challenge the system and push for transformational change. We have movements on climate and labor and racial justice doing the same in the community and at all levels of government. And all of us together are saying “Another world is possible.”

This, my friends, is hard work. The system will not change on its own. The Burlington Democrats will not change it. But change is essential if we are going to keep the planet habitable for our babies and most other life. It is essential if we are going to bring justice to our world.

Noam Chomsky says that “The smart[est] way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum -- even encourage the more critical and dissident views.” People then will feel that there's free thinking going on but all the while the system’s values are being reinforced by the limits put on the small range of the debate.

Well, we have and we will continue to reject these limits. We will continue to push open the window of acceptable political discourse. The Puerto Rican poet Aurora Levins Morales says this powerfully in her poem V’Ahavta. Here’s a small excerpt:

Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up, imagine winning.

This is your sacred task.This is your power. Imagine

every detail of winning, the exact smell of the summer streets

in which no one has been shot, the muscles you have never

unclenched from worry, gone soft as newborn skin,

the sparkling taste of food when we know

that no one on earth is hungry, that the beggars are fed,

that the old man under the bridge and the woman

wrapping herself in thin sheets in the back seat of a car,

and the children who suck on stones,

nest under a flock of roofs that keep multiplying their shelter.

Lean with all your being towards that day

when the poor of the world shake down a rain of good fortune

out of the heavy clouds, and justice rolls down like waters.

My friends, we have it in our power once again to make history in Burlington. With your help now and in the coming months, in March and beyond, we can, we will win. Let’s make it so.

Thank you.


About Gene

I live on St. Louis St. by Roosevelt Park/Boys and Girls Club with my wife Wendy Coe. We’ve lived here for 34 years, raising 2 sons, Elijah and Woody who went through the Burlington School system. We have 2 grandchildren.

I’ve worked for a healthy Old North End: Center City Little League (coach & umpire), Boys & Girls Club (board), Tommy Thompson Community Garden (in the Intervale). 

I’ve worked with my neighbors and co-workers: North St. community organization PACT (People Acting for Change Together -- tenants/low & moderate income peoples’ rights); GCIU (Graphics Communications International Union: workplace print industry, organizing and bargaining committees); UVMMC Nurses Support Committee (2018 strike support); “No on 4” Committee (2019 opposition to privatization of Downtown District); Migrant Justice—No Mas Polimigra (Fair & Impartial Policing policy 2019). 

I’ve helped build community wealth and solidarity organizations: Onion River Co-op/City Market  (member since 1973 and a former staffer), Community Health Center (patient since 1973), Peace & Justice Center (member and former board member since 1981), Oak St. Cooperative (cooperative member), Champlain Housing Trust (initial funding and ongoing support), and First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington (past board president, social responsibility, justice  & outreach leader). 

I’ve served the public: I’ve served the public: Ward 2 & 3 NPA rep to CBDG committee, Assistant Election Official, Ward 2 City Councilor (8 years 1986-1992, 2022-2024), and Sr. Assistant City Attorney under 3 different administrations (20 years).

All these years, I’ve worked to improve the lives of everyday working people, to stand up to elites and their greed and discrimination, to fight systemic racism, to make government work for all and not just the privileged few, and to make a healthy and fair world for our kids, our parents, families and neighbors now and for generations to come.

I’d like the chance to continue serving Ward 2.

To see my and other Progressive nomination statements from the Dec. 4, 2023 nominating caucus click here.