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Kiss Wins in Instant Runoff Voting

Bianca Slota // Published March 3, 2009 in WCAX News

He was not the voters' first choice but Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss will get a second term in office. The Progressive was re-elected Tuesday night after two rounds of instant runoff voting.

After the initial vote count, Republican Kurt Wright was the leader with 32 percent of the vote. Kiss was second at 28 percent, followed by Democrat Andy Montroll and Independent Dan Smith.

Initial Round:

Kurt Wright (R) 2952 - 32%
Bob Kiss (P) 2585 - 28%
Andy Montroll (D) 2065 - 23%
Dan Smith (I) 1307 - 14%

But in Burlington you need a majority to win and after two rounds of IRV, it was Kiss on top with 51.5 percent to Wright's 48.5.

Final Vote:

Bob Kiss (P) 4313 - 51.5%
Kurt Wright (R) 4061 - 48.5%

The results meant parties on Church Street-- some happy, some frustrated. But whether they were victorious or not, all the candidates celebrated with their supporters.

Greeted by chants of "three more years," a victorious Bob Kiss began celebrating his re-election as mayor of Burlington.

"I'm really happy with the outcome," Kiss said. "Reflects three years of good work by people. Puts the city in a good position. It's a result of the hard work that we've done."

Kiss was initially losing the race after the first vote count. Republican Kurt Wright led with 32 percent of the vote. The progressive Kiss trailed with 28 percent. But after two rounds of the instant runoff voting system, Kiss prevailed with 51 percent. Wright called the loss frustrating.

"It's obviously disappointing," Wright said. "On the other hand, it's gratifying to have won after the first count and to have won on the second round... so I feel great about that."

In the end, the two men were separated by just 252 votes, a margin that has Kurt Wright considering asking for a recount.

"I'm gonna consider it," Wright said. "I don't expect it to overturn the results but it may be worth doing to figure out how this whole system does work."

But Kiss is confident in his victory and says he's looking forward to continuing work on the Moran Plant and keeping Burlington financially sound.

"I do believe if Kurt and I had a citywide race I would prevail, IRV really does reflect the will of the people and I'm looking forward to another three years," Kiss said.

Wright will also be stepping down as city council president and doesn't yet know if he'll run again in three years.