The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont

By Steven Soifer | Go to book overview

It creates a sense of local pride and [it is a] regular attraction. It's good for business in town. You talk to the mayor of Indianapolis--if you ask him the best thing he did, it was get[ting] the Colts [a football team]. It gives them a sense of excitement and being in the [big] time, and I think that's not such a small accomplishment.

However, the Reds were not destined to stay in Burlington. For the second time, the Reds parent club, the Cincinnati Reds, threatened to move their farm team to a warmer climate. This time, they carried it out. The 1988 baseball season saw a new team, the Vermont Mariners (a farm club for the Seattle Mariners), playing in Burlington. The Mariners, however, lasted only one season. 59

There were intense negotiations between the Sanders administration and the owner of a minor league team in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to relocate the club to Burlington. Despite the best efforts of Sanders, a segment of the business community, and Lt. Gov. Howard Dean (who got the state to commit up to $1 million for improvements to the ball field), there wasn't enough time to meet the owner's precondition--$225,000 in season ticket sales. In 1989, Burlington was without a minor league team for the first time in four years, and it was unlikely that another one would locate in the city in the foreseeable future. 60


CONCLUSION

There is little doubt that Sanders did much to improve the quality of life for Burlingtonians during his tenure as mayor. From the arts to youth to baseball, the mayor championed issues that have enriched all residents' lives. The fact that Sanders had some extremely competent people to help him accomplish this does not diminish the contribution he personally made in this area.

Other efforts met with more limited success or failure. In the area of women's issues, Sanders's record is mixed. He seems to have heightened his consciousness around women's concerns, although there was little, if any, change when it came to process and decision- making issues. And although Sanders strongly supported the concerns of the elderly, they do not have the institutionalized voice at city hall that other groups have.

Quality-of-life concerns are very important when we consider nonreformist reforms toward a socialist society. While none of these accomplishments by the Sanders administration, in their own right, can be considered nonreformist reforms (with the possible excep

-204-

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The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Historical Background and Theoretical Framework on Socialist Municipalities 1
  • 2 - Burlington, Bernard Sanders, and the Progressive Coalition 13
  • 3 - Local Government and City Finances in Burlington 39
  • Conclusion 60
  • 4 - Development and Growth Issues and the Sanders Administration 61
  • Conclusion 88
  • 5 - Citizen Participation, Democracy, and the Neighborhoods 91
  • Conclusion 117
  • 6 - The Question of Ownership Under Municipal Socialism 119
  • Conclusion 141
  • 7 - Taxes and the Redistribution of Wealth 142
  • Conclusion 171
  • 8 - Quality-Of-Life Issues and the Sanders Administration 174
  • Conclusion 204
  • 9 - Central America: Sanders and the Peace Movement 206
  • Conclusion 222
  • 10 - Conclusion 224
  • 11 - Epilogue 238
  • Notes 243
  • Selected Bibliography 273
  • Index 275
  • About the Author 287
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