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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Students, On And Off The Ballot, Seek To Get Peers To The Polls

Taylor Dobbs
Students made their way to Burlington's city hall Wednesday, carrying signs encouraging voter turnout.

A group of University of Vermont students and staff braved the freezing weather Wednesday in an effort to rally their peers to vote on Town Meeting Day.

The group is enthusiastic about this election because the city council now has two seats that represent the area surrounding UVM which is dominated by students.

With that in mind, two students are also on the ballot this year. Senior Carmen Scoles is running as a Democrat in the Eastern District, a large area that covers UVM’s campus and surrounding neighborhoods where many students rent.

Scoles was one of the students at Wednesday’s event, walking just a few paces ahead of her incumbent opponent, Selene Colburn. Colburn, a Progressive, said she also wanted to encourage turnout, and neither candidate had anything negative to say about the other.

“We have a huge emphasis on positive campaigns here in Burlington,” Scoles said, “because it is such a friendly place and there’s no reason to be hostile. I’ve gotten to talk to Selene on many occasions, and we have a really nice relationship within this campaign, and I appreciate that being a newcomer to politics.”

In the Ward 8 election, recent UVM graduate Adam Roof is running as an independent against student Democrat Brock Gibian, who has Mayor Miro Weinberger’s backing.

"We really want to see a city councilor that can represent the students that live in their ward along with the full-time residents." - UVM Senior Eleanor Auchincloss

Whatever the outcome of those races, the organizers of the event are more concerned with getting their peers voting than they are with how they vote.

Senior Eleanor Auchincloss said it’s important to have student interests represented on the council.

“We really want to see a city councilor that can represent the students that live in their ward along with the full-time residents,” she said.

Auchincloss said she got involved with local politics through the group Our Streets, which advocates for increased transportation options and infrastructure to better support pedestrians and bicyclists.

The group has endorsed Weinberger for reelection, but Auchincloss said for her, it’s not about the outcome.

“For me personally, as a student, “ she said, “I think whatever your politics are, get out and vote.”

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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