Brian Pine to lead the Burlington Community and Economic Development Office

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  • File: Courtesy of Karen Pike
  • City Councilor Brian Pine

Updated at 5:48 p.m.

Mayor Miro Weinberger has chosen City Councilor Brian Pine (P-Ward 3) to be the next director of the city’s community and economic development office.

The mayor and Pine announced the decision during a COVID-19 virtual briefing on Wednesday.

“My love for Burlington made this decision quite easy, when the mayor asked me if I would consider taking on this position, said Pine. “For me, serving the community that has been my home for the past 40 years is an honor that is an emotional honor.”

Pine is no stranger to CEDO, having worked as the department’s director of housing for nearly 18 years, nearly three of them under Weinberger. He left his post in 2015 and has since held various consulting positions in the private sector. Pine is currently the Interim Coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

If appointed by the board, Pine would become the sixth leader of ODEC in Weinberger’s nine-year tenure. Pine would replace Luke McGowan, who left town in February for a post in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Pine, who was a city councilor in the 1990s, was re-elected to the body in 2018. Last December, he sought the nomination of the Progressive Party as mayor in an attempt to topple Weinberger, but lost to the ‘current board chairman Max Tracy (P-Ward 2).

Pine said that while he and Weinberger don’t always agree, they “share a deep and lasting love for Burlington and make Burlington the best little town in America.”

Weinberger agreed.

“To me that represents what Burlington politics should be and what it often is – we have partisan, contested and hard-fought elections, and then we make a decision as a community,” said the mayor. “People who had been competing or on the other side of a campaign are rolling up their sleeves [and] set to work.”

The board is expected to vote on Pine’s appointment on Monday, May 24th. If approved, the city will hold a special election for the Pine council seat, likely in August. His term was due to expire in 2022.

Pine’s resignation from the board has the potential to shift the partisan balance of the organization. The six Board Progs currently only need one decisive vote to pass resolutions; losing Ward 3 to a Democrat would put them on an equal footing with the four Democrats on the council, who reliably back Weinberger’s agenda. The 12-person corps also has two independents.

Pine said he was convinced the Progressives would retain the seat, as they have for decades. Tracy was also indifferent, noting that Weinberger “is not very popular in the Old North End”. The mayor only obtained 31% of the votes in Ward 3 last March.

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“It’s hard to see people wanting to give him another vote on city council,” Tracy said, adding that Progs would start recruiting candidates soon.

Tracy praised her colleague and applauded Weinberger for appointing a Progressive to lead the ODEC, which was created by former Mayor Bernie Sanders in 1983. The office manages a myriad of programs, ranging from large capital projects to city ​​center for restorative justice.

“I think it’s positive because we need to think differently when it comes to issues like housing, for example, where we just haven’t seen enough progress,” Tracy said.

Pine said he plans to work on various housing reforms, including helping to close the home ownership gap that black residents face and expanding the supply of permanently affordable housing in the city.

“Whatever the challenge, whatever resources are available, ODEC staff will strive to meet the needs of this community every time,” he said. “It inspired me and I look forward to working with this kind of team again.”

Pine says he “will play that role as long as the mayor sees him as the right person.”

Weinberger said Pine will bring the perspective and experience to the office.

“He knows this community extraordinarily well, having held various positions,” said the mayor of Pine. “He will have the opportunity to lead a department which emerges from the pandemic invigorated and changed and which is deployed in new initiatives.”

Weinberger has a number of further vacant Head of Department positions. City attorney Eileen Blackwood, one of the first people appointed by the mayor, is leaving next month, as is Brian Lowe, the city’s chief innovation officer. Lowe was previously Weinberger’s chief of staff.

Planning Director David White will retire after 20 years of working for the city, including two separate terms as Interim Director of ODEC. White will assume a new part-time role as “senior urban policy adviser” for special planning and housing projects, according to the mayor’s office.

The city has also just relaunched the search for its next police chief. No one has held this position permanently since Brandon del Pozo resigned in December 2019.

Correction, May 19, 2021: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the position of Chief of Police as “vacant” since December 2019. An Acting or Acting Chief has served since then.


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