by Aaron Warner
The once thriving metropolis of Burlington has become a Green Mountain war zone. An average year sees a small handful of shootings. This year there have been 12, and it’s only August.
Yet as violent crimes skyrocket, the city council is still singing the Progressive siren song to defund the police. That could be a factor in the Tuesday, August 17 special election to fill the Ward 3 City Council seat vacated by Brian Pine, who was appointed to a city post.
Ward 3, in the Old North End, has been a Progressive stronghold for forty years. For the first time in many years, Ward 3 will have an openly Republican. Christopher-Aaron Felker has decided to come out of the classical liberal corner swinging to defend his neighbors from the assault wrought by Progressive crime and housing policies.
Primary to Felker’s platform is the overwhelming cry of his fellow Ward 3 inhabitants to RE-fund rather than defund the police. Citing a variety of statistics from the massive increase in shootings to a recent racially motivated assault in the once peaceful downtown area, Christopher has hit the pavement and canvassed his would-be constituents to listen to their concerns and make himself available to foster constructive action.
Felker is keenly aware of perpetual opposition to new homes to buy or rent in a town he says is hovering around 1% vacancy.
“This is bordering on grave,” he remarked as he described how the current council’s ongoing inaction has created a renter’s nightmare. “We have had the opportunity to build 400 units with 69 at or below an affordable purchase price for new homeowners, but the council and their group keep stopping the process using Act 250,” the state land use and development law.
“They have all of the talking points and claim to want to help the housing situation but they never do anything,” Felker said. “I just got tired of watching the progressives win seats but do nothing about these issues.”
Felker has proposed a three-tiered policing plan. First: training current staff on best practices to meet community needs and concerns. Second, increase the number of staff to provide a greater presence on the streets, both with foot patrol and in the crimes units, to make Burlington safe. At current staffing, officers are barely able to keep up with the calls, Chief Jon Murad said recently.
“The people of Ward 3 would like to see and meet the officers who serve them. We can’t build back the department unless we have police who are out there in the community and not just in cars,” Felker said.
The third and most sought after piece, by citizens and the department, includes mental health and social workers trained to help in crises not necessarily requiring and armed unit. This has become a common request in major cities and Burlingtonians agree it should be implemented.
After he announced his candidacy a few weeks ago, Felker was immediately attacked for his views on transgender issues. “My opponents didn’t even bother to find out what I think about why I feel the way I do, they just began a smear campaign immediately,” he said.
His concern for the transgender community cuts both ways. A married gay man, he is firmly in favor of equal rights for all American citizens and equal access to opportunities.
He’s concerned about protecting women’s rights, too. “Transgender women in bathrooms is not the larger issue,” Felker said. “These once biological men are also seeking to get into women’s prisons, locker rooms and abuse shelters. That’s both unfair to women and their right to privacy and safety and dangerous.”
Many women’s rights advocates worry about intrusion into women’s sports and the money being deprived from women as scholarships are gobbled up by persons born as male.
Felker wonders why progressives who call for diversity and inclusion sit on a council made up entirely of progressives and Democrats. “We all need to come together to work on the problems facing all of us,” he said.
“It’s been a roller coaster but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I think we’re going to win,” he said confidently, sharing stories of life-long Democrats approaching him on the street to let him know they’ve already voted for him.
“It’s fun to meet these people in my area and it’s been a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to Tuesday and town meeting 2022.”