UPDATED WITH CORRECTION 6:42 PM
Asks ACLU to sponsor forum even though business groups have already offered
By Guy Page
When Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George complained on Twitter Tuesday about “misinformation and inaccuracies being spread by my opponent” and asked for a candidate forum “ASAP,” she already had candidate debate offers from prominent, non-partisan Chittenden County organizations.
George faces a Democratic primary challenge from Ted Kenney, a Williston lawyer running on a platform of “criminal justice reform and safe streets.”
Despite a tweeted request by lawyer and former Burlington City Councilor Ed Adrian to specify her complaints about Kenney, George declined to offer details. On June 10, Kenney aired a Facebook video in which he called out George for failing to impose reasonable conditions of release on alleged serial car thief Marlon Taylor, who has been arrested five times in the last three months, and promptly released.
As reported this week by Vermont Daily Chronicle, George is promoted by the George Soros-funded Fair and Just Prosecution organization, along with fellow FJP-supported district attorneys George Gascon of Los Angeles, Larry Krasner of Philadelphia, and Chesa Boudin of San Francisco (since recalled by dissatisfied voters).
As in those larger cities, Burlington is experiencing an increase in gunfire incidents, homelessness, drug trafficking, and shoplifting.
These problems – and George’s role in solving them – are clearly a matter of interest before the August 9 primary election. Two leaders in the Greater Burlington area pointed out to George via Twitter that she already has a candidate forum offer on the table.
“My understanding is that Burlington Business Association and the Lake Champlain Chamber and several other groups sent you an invitation for a forum. That might be a good place to start,” Adrian tweeted. [EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier edition, Adrian’s quote was mistakenly attributed to Austin Davis, government affairs director of the Lake Champlain Chamber. The Chronicle regrets the error.]
“If you check your campaign email, I know 4 orgs yesterday sent you an email with an invitation to a forum,” Austin Davis of the Lake Champlain Chamber tweeted.
It’s possible that George didn’t respond to invitations from these groups because their members are businesses upset with the increase in shoplifting and drug trafficking in downtown Burlington, and George’s unwillingness at times to jail or even bail arrestees. In her tweet, she called on organizations more supportive of her socially progressive criminal justice practices, such as ACLU – Vermont, three prominent media organizations (not Vermont Daily Chronicle), and the Burlington Democratic Party.
On her campaign website, George is direct about the main problems she believes the Chittenden County criminal justice system faces:
“Understand and acknowledge that our legal system is built on systemic racism and classism. Our system is not broken – it was designed to disproportionately impact black and brown people, and people living in poverty. We must reckon with this fact and work to repair the harm to these communities.
“Gun Violence. Sarah believes that we must hold people accountable who commit acts of gun violence. We must do this by partnering with community organizations that can address the root causes of gun violence and interrupt the cycle of harm caused. This requires a wholistic response to a complicated and critical issue in our community.
“Hold police accountable. Sarah pushed for legislation that would lower the bar for bringing criminal charges for excessive force by police. She supports the many hardworking and ethical officers, and holds others accountable for any misconduct that would degrade the trust between law enforcement and the community. By doing this, she can strengthen the relationship between the community and law enforcement.”