By DENIS GIBBONS
Two incumbents on Burlington city council declined to attend all-candidates meetings organized by the Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECOB), leaving the floor open to their challengers to advance their platforms.
Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster, who serve Wards 5 and 6, respectively, have been critical of the citizens group.
Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison did, however, show up for the ECOB-sponsored debate at Nelson high school, leaving a council meeting earlier to get there.Sharman said he rejects the legitimacy of the ECOB “In the short history of ECOB, since November 2017, there has been a continuous demonstration of divisiveness, disrespect of council and City management, inflammatory misinformation and partisan posturing.“Lastly, it is unclear where ECOB funding comes from.
In a letter, Lancaster said the ECOB failed to provide a fair and equitable environment for a debate to occur.“I initially shared my concerns about the facilitator which I believe to be extremely biased. While ECOB responded positively to my request to change the facilitator they also shared information about my private correspondence conspiring with the Burlington Gazette to discredit me and my concern.”
Penny Hersh, president of ECOB, said Sharman and Lancaster missed a great opportunity to meet with residents.“It’s unfortunate they chose to malign ECOB,” she said. “We weren’t doing anything wrong. We are incorporated.” Traffic congestion was a major topic at both the Ward 5 and 6 debates. Wendy Moraghan, a candidate in Ward 5, said she wants drivers to slow down but doesn’t like speed bumps. “People seem to go over the speed bumps very carefully, but then they accelerate even faster,” she said. Alice St. James, who also is running in Ward 5, called for synchronized lights on all the major thoroughfares.Ward 5 candidate Daniel Roukema said he takes public transit in any city he visits.
“I absolutely love it and it keeps traffic off the roads.”Ward 5 candidate Xin Yi Zhang and St. James both said they will not vote for a tax increase, if elected.However, Roukema said that’s not realistic.“If any politician tells you they’re not going to raise taxes, please be prepared to be disappointed after four years.” In Ward 6 candidate Angelo Bentivegna said more traffic lanes reserved for righthand and lefthand turns are needed. Candidate Kinsey Schurm called for speed reduction measures on Millcroft Park Drive.Candidate Ken White criticized the City for not having a transit plan.“Mobility hubs without a transit plan don’t make sense,” he said.