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February 08, 2012

Need a Job? Run for Mayor

-1Out of work? Looking for a job in Burlington City Hall? If a recent promise made by Republican mayoral candidate Kurt Wright holds any water, your best bet might be to run against him.

During a forum on multiculturalism and equity on Saturday, Wright said that if he is elected mayor, fellow candidate Wanda Hines, “will have a key role in the administration.”

Wright was responding to a question about how he would increase cultural awareness within city hall and bring more diversity to local government.

He prefaced his response by saying Hines, an independent, has “as good a chance of winning this race” as Democratic candidate Miro Weinberger or himself.

“But should I win, Wanda will have a key role in the administration. I think Wanda does a great job now and I would want Wanda to be an integral part of the administration. Having said that, again, I know Wanda is planning on being the one in charge—"

“Yes I am,” Wanda interjected.

“And, again, she has as good a chance as anyone,” Wright continued. “But a person like Wanda, and there are lots of other people — some people right here in the audience — who would do a great job, so we would be reaching out to those people.”

Asked Wednesday on WVMT’s “Charlie and Ernie and Lisa in the Morning” show whether she would take a job in a Wright administration, Hines said yes.

“I would accept a position in a Kurt Wright administration,” she said. “I would accept a position — any position — where I can continue to contribute to my community. Yes, I would. People, you know, paint Kurt as this bad guy. I don’t think Kurt is a bad guy. I mean, I understand where Kurt is coming from and I think we need to do a better job of agreeing to disagree and, again, accepting people.”

Reached later in the day, Hines had changed her tune.

“As much as I like Kurt, it is inappropriate for him to offer me a job — especially when I’m running against him,” she said in a phone interview. “That kind of thing up front seems like a bribe way out in the open. For right now, I’d like to say to Kurt, ‘I’m running for mayor, you’re running for mayor, and I think all of us will look at the options after the election.’”

But would she take a job if offered?

“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe I would if it was available.”

Wright, too, seemed to step back from the proposed partnership Wednesday.

“Wanda would be someone I’d strongly consider. She’s someone who already works in city hall,” he said.

Hines is currently on leave from her position as Social Equity Investment Project Director in Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO).

Wright said he was referring to the possibility that Hines would remain in her position at CEDO or could serve in a different position in the office if he were successful in overhauling the office, as he has proposed.

“The reason I think about that in those terms is that if she was elected, she would be there because she already works there,” he said.

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