Kiss at reelection kickoff: 'Issues not politics'
Among the attendees who braved icy slush: City Treasurer Jonathan Leopold, Community and Economic Development Director Larry Kupferman, City Attorney Ken Schatz, failed Independent (and, formerly, Progressive) gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina, Firehouse Gallery Curator Chris Thompson, City Councilors Jane Knodell (P-Ward 2) and Ed Adrian (D-Ward 1). (Adrian, who had publicly considered running for mayor, left as Kiss took the floor.)
In her introductory speech, Police Commissioner Sarah Kenney said Kiss "doesn't toot his own horn," but works hard "in his reserved way." Kiss blushed. Kenney added that she appreciates how the mayor has managed the city budget without cutting social services.
Kenney was followed by Tim Ashe, a Ward 3 Progressive Councilor who had just been sworn in as a Democrat/Progressive "fusion" senator. Wearing a snappy new suit, Ashe said Kiss and City Treasurer Leopold have created jobs and kept property tax rates level despite a budgetary "mess" inherited from previous mayoral administrations. Moreover, Ashe said, 2009 mayoral campaigns by two of Kiss' opponents — City Councilors Andy Montroll (D-Ward 6) and Kurt Wright (R-Ward 4) — have "lacked introspection."
"No blame resides with any one city councilor," the thirtysomething frosh senator added, "but [Kiss] walked into a minefield and pulled us out of it without having to reduce services."
Kiss approached the microphone to boisterous applause. He smiled and put his hands in his pockets. Then, in his classic, unassuming style, he addressed a few points from his mayoral platform. Here are a few, provided by his reelection team:
· No municipal tax increase for the past two city budget years, while continuing to maintain essential services for streets and sidewalks, snow removal, Fire and Police services, and Parks and Recreation;
· Received overwhelming support from voters to move forward on the Moran Redevelopment Project;
· During Bob’s term, Burlington’s job and wage growth has exceeded the state as a whole;
· Strongly supported and pursued Intervale land sale;
· Establishing the Citizen Budget Task Force, which has worked over the last 3 years to make recommendations for the City Budget;
· Numerous opportunities for citizen participation in decision-making process such as establishing Environmental and Energy Coordinating Committee, Climate Action Process, Retirement task Force, and Afterschool Committee;
· Created the first ever City wide process for prioritizing infrastructure projects.
During his speech, Kiss added that he would not propose a tax increase for 2010 if elected, and that he doesn't "politicize personnel issues." That last point was an obvious jab at his opponent, Council President Kurt Wright, a Republican from the New North End who has been a vocal critic of the Kiss administration's handling of the scandal surrounding Waterfront Manager Adam Cate.
"Progressive leadership reaches out to Democrats, Republicans and Independents to move forward based on issues, not politics," Kiss said, "based on what's good for the people of Burlington, not what's good for the politicians."
"Reserved" fightin' words?