Clavelle seeks two-party nomination

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(Host) The mayor of Vermont’s largest city wants to broaden his political base as he campaigns for a seventh term in office. Mayor Peter Clavelle has run before as a Progressive candidate. Now Clavelle is seeking the Democratic nomination as well. At Clavelle’s announcement Monday, Clavelle and his supporters said it was time to move away from party labels.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle has a reputation as a pragmatic politician who works well with Democrats, Republican business leaders, and his own Progressive Party. Clavelle has served six terms as mayor; each time he was elected as a Progressive.

What’s different about this race is that Clavelle also wants the Democratic nomination. The mayor says it’s time to move beyond the old partisan divisions that have characterized Burlington politics:

(Clavelle) “My message to the Democrats is that it’s important that we come together as a community, to build on our strengths and shore up our weaknesses. And let’s not let the same old traditional party politics get in the way of that.”

(Dillon) Clavelle’s attempt to unite the parties around his candidacy strikes a chord with both left-leaning Democrats and Progressives. Many of them were disappointed in November at the outcome of the lieutenant governor’s race. In that contest, the Democrat and Progressive split a majority of the vote. That means Republican Brian Dubie will probably be chosen by the Legislature.

Progressive City Councilor Jane Knodell says that experience was on her mind as she called on both Democrats and Progressives to back Clavelle.

(Knodell) “We’ve seen what happens when the left divides itself between two viable candidates. And the question I was asking really is, what’s more important? Moving forward on affordable housing, cleaning up the environment, providing livable wage jobs. What’s more important, moving forward on that or holding on to old grudges or notions of party purity? And I think that’s the question that Peter’s posing to all of us this week.”

(Dillon) Clavelle has been mentioned before as a statewide candidate. His prospects for higher office would be boosted if he gets elected as a Democrat from Vermont’s largest city. But the mayor says that he’s concentrating on the March Town Meeting Day election.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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