Pam Mackenzie, City Council Chair

Councilor’s Corner: Our First Thirty Days

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Thursday April 04, 2013

It is almost a month to the day that record numbers of voters in South Burlington went to the polls and changed the make-up of our City Council. 

This column gives me the opportunity to thank Paul Engels and Sandy Dooley for their service, thank Rosanne Greco and Helen Riehle for their continued service, and welcome Pat Nowak and Chris Shaw to their next Grand Adventure in Public Service.

I am very mindful that this past election seemed more divisive than previous elections.  The overwhelming number of voters who came to the polls on March 5th sent all of us a very compelling message, “we are engaged, we are watching and we want the best for our city”.  As intelligent and thoughtful citizens, you deserve a Council that is committed to delivering wise decisions. Voters asked for a change in how City Council business was conducted over the last couple of years and I pledge my very best to fulfill that wish. I am optimistic that we can restore and enhance the excellent reputation that South Burlington residents expect.

Accordingly, please know that your Council has kept a laser focus on taking care of City business.  Since the election on March 5th, the Council has met March 11th, March 14 th, March 16 th, March 18th, and March 26 th.  In addition to addressing the normal organizational items, electing our officers and making annual appointments, we have also taken the following actions:

• Approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City and The City of South Burlington Career Firefighters’ Association
• Appointed two new members to the Planning Commission
• Interviewed six candidates for Interim City Manager
• Completed background and reference checks for the top three Interim City Manager candidates
• Approved Interim Zoning Application #IZ-12-06
• Approved Interim Zoning Application #IZ-13-01
• Held an informational meeting regarding Noise Abatement at the Burlington International Airport
• Initiated planning process for a “Blue Ribbon Hiring Committee” for the new City Manager
• Held a joint meeting with the Planning Commission specifically to have the Interim Zoning Committees (Affordable Housing, Form Based Codes, Open Space and Sustainable Agriculture/Food Security) give progress reports
• Started working with the City of Burlington on a strategic plan for the Burlington International Airport
• Developed a working relationship with Community Gardeners and the Burlington Garden Club for use of Wheeler Park

I know that we will not agree on every action and issue.  However, I have great respect for the residents, voters, business owners and people who commute to South Burlington to work every day.   When I ran for office in 2012, my campaign committed to:

• Be respectful, inclusive and
   collaborative with all of the community’s stakeholders, even when there is disagreement
• Provide a balanced and moderate approach to our City government
• Lead with candor and transparency to establish trust within our community
• Work to create a vibrant and diverse economy, without sacrificing   our values
• Respect the past in order to plan for our future

As City Council Chair, it is my intention that over the next few months our Council can work on the following:

• Restoring communications with the Airport and the airport neighborhoods
• Restore our relationship with Cairns Arena
• Restore our relationship with the City Staff
• Incorporate the best ideas and recommendations from our Interim Zoning Committees for the benefit of our community (whether this is a permanent affordable housing committee or farm-to-table program for our schools, let’s not waste the committees’ valuable work)
• Help the Planning Commission complete the comprehensive plan
• Collaborate with the Planning Commission and the State on wind and solar siting in South Burlington
• Break ground at City Center
• Recruit and hire a “Best in Class” City Manager
• Restore our relationship with the Vermont Air National Guard
• Kick start an Economic Development program for South Burlington
• Restore our relationship with the business and development community

This is a lot to do; none of it is going to happen overnight, and given the engagement of the electorate in this last election – it is my sincere hope that you would like to help.  Thank you very much for the opportunity to serve.  Thank you to my fellow members of Council for all of their hard work as well.  None of this happens because of one person.

SOURCE: Pam Mackenzie