The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont

By Steven Soifer | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

Clearly, the structure of local government places certain constraints on a socialist mayor. Regardless of whether Burlington actually has a "weak mayor" form of government, there are built-in limitations on what Bernard Sanders was able to do in Burlington, such as the dispersion of power that exists between the executive office and the legislative body in the city and the system of city commissions.

Despite these difficulties, Sanders was remarkably successful in pushing his agenda at city hall. By forcefully fighting to get his appointments, Sanders successfully surrounded himself with a group of very competent people who in turn helped to augment Sanders's mayoral powers in a variety of ways. And although the existence of city commissions initially hampered the Sanders administration, once the Progressive Coalition garnered six seats on the Board of Aldermen, it was able to effectively wield power in the appointment process.

It appears that it is not so much the form of government as it is the power wielded within whatever form of government that is crucial to a reform-minded administration. In actual practice, then, the structure of local government has little real impact on what a Socialist administration can or can not do. Sanders and his administration demonstrated "good government" practices, which can cut across party lines. The key difference, as we have seen, is who benefits from these practices. In Burlington, a strong argument can be made that poor and working people have been the prime beneficiaries.

-60-

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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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