BURLINGTON — Two first-time candidates are challenging Burlington City Council incumbents in the Nov. 7 general election.
In Ward 4, incumbent Tonya Bieche is squaring off against James Stavig, while incumbent Joe DeGloria is facing Rye Fogle for the council’s at-large position.
Stavig, an accountant, said he was motivated to run after he felt ignored when he requested the city look into a code problem in his neighborhood.
He said he was frustrated that Bieche, who has served two terms on the council, ran unopposed last time. He said council members should face challengers regularly to bring new blood into the city.
“I decided I’ll step up to the plate and do my civic duty,” he said.
Bieche said her experience on the council makes her a better candidate.
She said she has learned that government has to move slowly. The negative side effects of policy aren’t always clear, so decisions should be carefully studied.
“Before I was an incumbent, I agreed with James (Stavig),” she said. “If he’s on council, I’m sure he will see.”
She added that Stavig — a middle-aged Caucasian man — is not exactly underrepresented on the Burlington City Council.
As a councilman, Stavig said he would want to tell “whoever is in charge” to make staff more responsive and try to get more people to attend council meetings. He also said he would make items the council discusses, which are available online, easier to find.
Bieche said she hopes to continue working with other cities and the county on housing affordability and homelessness.
Specifically, she suggested the county consider remodeling the site of the old jail in downtown Mount Vernon for housing or temporary shelter because the old jail already has laundry, bathrooms, showers and a kitchen, she said.
“We’d be millions of dollars ahead with the facility, owning the building and owning the land,” she said.
In the meantime, she said she will steer Burlington toward support of higher density multifamily housing.
DeGloria, who is finishing his first term on the council, said between maintenance, infrastructure, affordable housing and public safety, it wouldn’t be responsible to prioritize just one thing.
The biggest challenge facing the council, he said, is to balance these many needs while keeping a responsible budget.
He said he would consider advocating for tax and impact fee incentives for developers of high-density multifamily housing in the city.
“I do support density, housing that goes up instead of out,” he said.
However, he said he doesn’t want to cede commercial land to housing, considering Burlington’s reliance on sales tax revenue.
Fogle declined to be interviewed for this story and did not fill out a candidate questionnaire.