Vermont Progressive Party

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This article is about the Vermont Progressive Party. For other uses, see Progressive Party (disambiguation).
Vermont Progressive Party
Chairperson Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Senate Leader Anthony Pollina
House Leader Robin Chesnut-Tangerman
Founded 1999
Headquarters P.O. Box 281
Montpelier, VT 05601
Ideology Progressivism
Democratic socialism
Social democracy
Political position Centre-left to Left-wing
Colors Red, Pink
Seats in the State Senate
3 / 30
Seats in the State House
7 / 150

The Vermont Progressive Party is a political party in the United States. It was founded in 1999 and is active only in the U.S. state of Vermont. The party is largely social democratic and progressive. The Progressives received 9,470 votes (2.96% of the vote) in the 2010 Vermont House of Representatives Elections, and five seats, compared to the Democrats' 55.11% and 96 seats, the Republicans' 38.04% of the vote, and 46 seats. Independents received 3.81% and three seats. As of 2016, the party controls 16.6% of the Vermont Senate seats, and 6% of the seats in the Vermont House of Representatives. After the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, the Vermont Progressive Party has the highest number of seats among State and National offices for any organized party.


The Vermont Progressive Party originated with the independent campaign of Bernie Sanders for mayor of Burlington (previous to being elected mayor Sanders was a leader in the VT Liberty Union Party). Sanders, who was later elected to the United States House of Representatives,[1] and subsequently to the United States Senate,[2] never officially associated himself with the Progressive Party, although the Progressives were among his biggest supporters. A group of his supporters organized themselves as the Progressive Coalition to contest further elections.[3]

Progressives started running for the Burlington City Council and getting elected from the poor, student, and middle-class areas of Burlington. They cleaned up the waterfront, which had been left trashed by industry, started city-wide recycling, and established a public/private partnership with a land trust to make low- and moderate-income rental and home ownership available. The Progressive Administration started a women’s small business technical assistance program and an affirmative action ordinance for the awarding of city contracts. The city-owned public electric utility created nationally-recognized efficiency programs, developed a wood-burning electric facility, and provides Burlington residents with the lowest electric rates in the state.[4]

The Coalition succeeded in electing several members, including Terry Bouricius, to the Vermont General Assembly, and, after establishing a stable political base, formally became the Progressive Party.[5] While the party has traditionally focused on state races, in 2000 it nominated Ralph Nader for president and Winona LaDuke for vice-president.[6] In the 2004 elections the party picked up three new seats; it now has five representatives in the Vermont House of Representatives[7]

Progressive Peter A. Clavelle was elected Mayor of Burlington in 1989. Clavelle served seven terms. After winning his first term, he remained in office until 1993 when he lost his re-election bid after giving domestic partners of city employees full benefits. Clavelle returned to the mayors office two years later in 1995 continuing to hold the position until 2006.

In the run up to the Senate election in 2006, there were pressures from numerous Democratic politicians to convince the Progressive Party not to run a candidate for Vermont's sole seat in the House in exchange for Democratic support for Bernie Sanders in the Senate race. The party's chairman, Anthony Pollina, told the press his party was not going to make deals. David Zuckerman, a Progressive Party member of the state House of Representatives and Chair of the House Agriculture committee, was planning to run for Vermont's House seat. However, in early 2006, Zuckerman canceled his bid for Congress, leaving the race open to Democrat Peter Welch, who won the election.

In the Burlington mayoral election on March 7, 2006, voters chose Progressive Bob Kiss, a three-term member of the state House of Representatives, over opponents Hinda Miller (Democrat) and Kevin Curley (Republican). He was reelected to a second term in 2009.


VPP logo

The Progressive Party encompasses a social-democratic platform. The party's main focus has historically been advocacy for a single-payer health care system, which has recently come to fruition through the implementation of Green Mountain Care, a single payer health care program being pushed by Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin, due to pressure from the Progressive Party. Other major policy platforms are renewable energy programs and a phase-out of nuclear energy, public transportation proposals including one for a high-speed rail system, criminal justice reforms directed at reducing the state's prison population and better protecting convicts' rights, the creation of programs to end homelessness in the state, ending the War on Drugs and repealing No Child Left Behind, and ending the focus on standardized testing in the school system. The party also has an anti-war stance, advocating for Vermont's national guard to be restricted from engaging in war zones outside the United States, an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and opposition to all 'preemptive' wars, strikes, or other military actions. The party is very supportive of LGBT rights, and members of the party were involved in the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.

Economically, the party also calls for converting the minimum wage to a living wage, having the economy focus on small and local businesses, empowerment of worker cooperatives and publicly owned companies as democratic alternatives to multi-national corporations and to decentralize the economy, for the strengthening of state law to protect the right to unionize, for implementing a progressive income tax and repealing the Capital Gains Tax Exemption and residential education property tax and all trade to be subject to international standards on human rights. The party is also critical of privatization.[4]

Elected officials[edit]

State-Wide Office

Vermont Senate

Vermont House of Representatives

  • Rep. Mollie S. Burke, Windham-3-2, single member district (2008-present)
  • Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, Rutland-Bennington, single member district (2014-present)
  • Rep. Brian Cina, with 1 (P) (2016-present)
  • Rep. Selene Colburn, Chittenden-6-4, with 1 (P) (2016-present)
  • Rep. Diana Gonzalez, Chittenden-6-7, with 1 (D) (2014-present)
  • Rep. Sandy Haas, Windsor-Rutland-2, single member district (2004-present)
  • Rep. Cindy Weed, Franklin 7, single member district (2012-2014, 2016-present)

Local government

  • Burlington
    • City Council
      • Selene Colburn (East District)
      • Jane Knodell, Council President (Central District)
      • Max Tracy (Ward 2)
      • Sara Giannoni (Ward 3)
    • Ward Clerk
      • Wendy Coe (Ward 2)
    • Inspector of Elections
      • Annie Schneider(Ward 2)
      • Kit Andrews (Ward 3)
  • Winooski
    • City Council
      • Robert Millar
  • Springfield
    • Selectboard
      • Stephanie Thompson
  • Berlin
    • Selectboard
      • Jeremy Hansen
  • Richmond
    • Selectboard
      • Steve May
  • The party also has a significant number of its members elected to local town governments and appointed to serve as town officials. However, in Vermont these elections are non-partisan; no party name appears before their names on election ballots or during an appointment process.

Party leaders[edit]

  • Senate Caucus Leader: Anthony Pollina
  • House Caucus Leader: Robin Chesnut-Tangerman
  • House Caucus Whip: Diana Gonzalez


^ Burlington Free Press article "House committee OKs recognition of Progressives", February 19, 2005, page 5B.

  1. ^ Gutman, Huck (2002-12-12). "Some Political Lessons from Vermont". Common Dreams NewsCenter. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ "Bernie Sanders elected to U.S. Senate". People's Weekly World. 2006-11-09. 
  3. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (2002-10-12). "'Vote Your Hopes, Not Your Fears'". Beat The Devil. The Nation. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  4. ^ a b "Platform Straw Poll from September 2014 State Committee Meeting". Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Nichols, John (2002-01-31). "New Year, New Party". The Nation. 
  6. ^ "Vermont Progressives Nominate Nader". Ballot Access News. 2000-08-01. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  7. ^ Winger, Richard (2009-01-15). "Vermont Bill Signed, Will Put Progressive Party on Apportionment Board". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 

External links[edit]