By-Laws of the City Democratic Committee
of Burlington, VT
Article I – Name
The name of this organization shall be the City Democratic Committee of Burlington, Vermont, herein called the Committee.
Article II – Purpose
The object and purpose of the Committee shall be to promote the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national levels through the election of duly nominated candidates, and by doing so, aid our government in the City, the State, and the United States, to function as a more effective democracy. The Committee shall advance the platform adopted by the Vermont Democratic Party Biennial State Platform Convention. In addition, the Committee will work to advance the public policy directions as expressed by resolution or by the platform its members may adopt under these By-laws. The Committee shall encourage and promote the involvement of the citizens of Burlington in the Democratic Party.
Article III – Membership
In conformity with 17 V.S.A. sec. 2304, at the time and place set for city caucus, the voters of the party residing in the town shall meet in caucus and proceed to elect a city committee, consisting of such number of voters of the city as the caucus deems necessary to serve during the following two years. Additional members of the City Committee may be elected by the city committee at any meeting, and may be eligible to vote on matters before the city committee at that meeting or at the next meeting, as determined by members of the committee before the election.
In addition to the above, the City Committee shall consist of the following Democrats who reside in the City of Burlington, unless amended by the Caucus at the biennial reorganization meeting:
all elected or appointed Democratic officials; and
all members of the Ward Committees who choose to be on the City Committee.
Within 72 hours after the caucus, the chairman and recording officer of the town committee shall mail to the secretary of state, the chairmen of the state and county committees, and the town (city) clerk a copy of the notice calling the meeting and a certified list of the names and mailing addresses of the officers and members of the Committee and of the delegates to the county committee pursuant to 17 V.S.A. sec. 2307 or any subsequently applicable statutory provision.
Article IV – Officers
The officers of the Committee shall consist of a chairperson, vice-chairperson, recording officer, treasurer, and assistant treasurer. These officers shall hold office for a two year term.
Article V – Quorum
A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of twenty five (25) members of the Committee.
Article VI – Voting
Nomination for an office shall require a majority of those present and voting, and if no candidate shall have received a majority after the first ballot, the candidate with the lowest number of votes in the first and in each succeeding ballot shall be eliminated until a candidate receives a majority. Where multiple nominees must be selected, including but not limited to Justice of the Peace nominations, the Committee may choose to use one ballot and nominate those who receive the largest number of votes on that ballot, up to the number of nominees required.
Voting in contested elections shall be by secret ballot and proxies are prohibited.
Where a ballot is determined to be “spoiled” and will not count toward the vote total of any one candidate then it will not count toward the overall vote total. A spoiled ballot will be treated as if it had never been cast.
The same voting procedures shall apply to all other business of the Committee requiring an election.
B. Eligibility to Participate and Vote in Nominating Caucuses:
Any registered voter who resides in the City of Burlington, in the case of a citywide nomination, or any registered voter who resides in the respective ward, in the case of an election for a position limited to that ward, shall be eligible to vote in a caucus duly warned for that purpose, so long as that person: 1) does not currently hold membership in another organized party’s committee, or 2) has not voted in another party’s caucus for the same nomination in the same election.
C. Ward Nominating Caucuses:
The executive committee of the city party, in consultation with the ward chairs, shall determine the time and place of the ward nominating caucus. The executive committee shall make this determination no less than one month before the nominating caucus. Interested candidates shall notify the Chair of the Burlington Democratic Party no later than 12:00 p.m. ten days before the date of the nominating caucus, unless such a day is a weekend or state holiday, in which case the deadline shall fall on the next business day. All candidates shall accomplish notification by sending an email stating an intention to run along with their name, ward or district, and street address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other timely forms of notification may be accepted at the discretion of the city chairperson. If more than one candidate achieves timely notification the nominee will be selected at the nominating caucus for city council candidates in accordance with the procedures in Article VI(A).
Finally, candidates are required to submit to the Burlington Democratic Committee a statement of values, including their plan to engage Burlington’s underrepresented communities no later than 5 days before the planned caucus date. Each candidate’s submission will be made available to ward caucuses a day before the nominating caucus.
If no candidate submits their nomination by the aforementioned deadline nominations will be accepted from the floor of the caucus. If there is no nominee after a nominating caucus, or a nominee decides not to run or is disqualified from running, the officers of the Burlington Democratic Party may select a nominee at their discretion.
This Section C of Article VI applies only to city council candidates. Candidates for Inspector of Elections and Ward Clerk may be nominated from the floor at the ward nominating caucus.
D. Mayoral Nominating Caucus
The executive committee of the city party shall determine the time and place of the nominating caucus for mayor. The executive committee shall make this determination no less than one month before the nominating caucus. Interested candidates shall notify the Burlington Democratic Party no later than 12:00 p.m. ten days before the date of the nominating caucus, unless such a day is a weekend or state holiday, in which case the deadline shall fall on the next business day. A candidate shall accomplish notification by sending an email stating an intention to run along with their name, ward, and street address to email@example.com.
Other timely forms of notification may be accepted at the discretion of the city chairperson. The Burlington Democratic Party will post the names of the nominees to its website by 6:00 p.m. that day, or as soon as possible thereafter. If more than one candidate achieves timely notification the nominee will be selected at the mayoral nominating caucus in accordance with the procedures in Article VI(A).
If no candidate submits their nomination by the aforementioned deadline nominations will be accepted from the floor of the mayoral caucus. If there is no nominee after a mayoral caucus, or if the nominee decides not to run or is disqualified from running, the officers of the Burlington Democratic Party may select a nominee at their discretion.
E. Suspension of Caucus
A mayoral or a ward nominating caucus may be suspended and continued in the event of an extraordinary circumstance (for example, in the case of a tie after the final round of voting, a natural disaster, or other extraordinary circumstance). The decision to suspend the caucus shall be made by the officers of the city committee in attendance at a mayoral caucus, or by any officers of the city committee and the affected ward chair in attendance at a ward nominating caucus. Only those voters present and voting at a caucus shall be eligible to vote at the continuation of that caucus.
Article VII – Committee organization and election of officers
A. The Committee will organize in September of the odd-numbered years on the date and according to the regulations prescribed by the State Chairperson and by state law, including 17 V.S.A. § 2304.
B. At this organizational meeting the order of business shall be:
The election of the officers of the Committee
The election of the delegates to the County Committee.
All other business.
At the conclusion of business of the Committee, there shall be an opportunity for the election of officers to Ward Committees in the event they have not already been elected or there are vacancies that need to be filled.
C. In the event of a contest for any office, voting shall be done in accordance with the procedure prescribed by Article VI.
Article VIII – Election of City Members to the County Committee
The candidates for the County Committee shall be nominated as follows:
The chairperson or recording officer shall prepare a list of all persons who notify them of their candidacy prior to the organizational meeting of the City Committee. This list shall be placed in nomination at the meeting.
Nominations from the floor, including self-nominations, at the meeting will also be accepted.
Article IX – Executive Committee
The Executive Committee shall consist of the immediate past chairperson of the Committee, the five executive officers of the City Committee, and the Ward chairpersons or their designee. Each past chairperson (other than the immediate past chairperson) who resides within the City of Burlington may serve as a non-voting member of the Executive Committee).
The Executive Committee shall remain impartial in the primary campaign of any candidate seeking a nomination conferred by the City Committee or any Ward Committee, or for any City-wide office, or seat in the State House of Representatives for a District which encompasses any portion of the City of Burlington.
No member of the Executive Committee may participate in any campaign for an individual who has opposition from a Democratic nominee for any office.
All executive board members are required to complete a racial bias training. The training shall be selected and approved by a majority vote of the executive committee, prior to the reorganization process. Executive board members must complete this training within the first 4 months of their 2 year term. It shall be the responsibility of the current Chair of the Burlington Democratic Committee to ensure executive board members are aware of this requirement and that members fulfill this requirement. It shall also be the responsibility of the current Chair of the Burlington Democrats to make well known this requirement to any and all future candidates for executive board positions before their election or appointment. Finally, upon election, executive board members will submit a written statement of understanding to the recording officer which affirms that they understand this requirement. It is further recommended to the entire executive board that they partake in the decided upon racial bias training. Source: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/labor_law/membership/equal_opportunity/
Article X – Chairperson
The chairperson shall be the general executive officer of the Committee. It shall be their duty to insure that the office of the State Democratic Committee receives a list of all members of the Committee, including officers thereof, and the chairperson shall pass this list to the chairperson’s successor in office. The chairperson shall preserve said list and add or subtract from the same to keep the list up to date and make it available for examination or copying by any Committee member upon request. The chairperson shall preside at all Committee meetings, and it shall be the chairperson’s duty to send notice of all meetings to members of the Committee at least seven days prior to a meeting of the Committee. Such notice may be by email unless a Committee member specifically requests another form of notice. It shall be the chairperson’s duty to see that caucuses are held in accordance with legal requirements of the State. The chairperson shall be an ex-officio member of all standing committees and shall, after prior consultation with the Executive Committee, appoint the chairperson of each standing committee – ensuring diversity and equal representation among wards to the extent practicable. Annually, the chairperson shall prepare a budget in consultation with the Executive Committee for presentation and approval by the Committee.
Article XI – Vice-Chairperson
The vice-chairperson shall be vested with all the powers and shall perform all the duties of the chairperson in the absence or disability of the chairperson.
Article XII – Recording Officer
The recording officer shall keep a complete and accurate record of the Committee meetings, and shall file a duplicate copy of each meeting with the chairperson and distribute the same to members of the Executive Committee. It shall be the duty of the recording officer to make these minutes available for examination or copying by any member of the Committee upon request. The recording officer shall certify to the city clerk, the county committee chairperson and to the state committee chairperson, the name and addresses of the Committee members and officers. For the purposes of state statutes that refer to a party officer with the title of “secretary,” the recording officer is the legal and functional equivalent to the secretary, and shall perform any duties that state law requires of a party “secretary.”
Article XIII – Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer
A. The Treasurer shall keep a full and accurate account and record of all receipts and disbursements and shall deposit all monies in the name of the Committee in a federally-insured credit union, bank, or savings and loan association, s/he shall disburse the funds of the Committee as may be ordered by the chairperson and the Executive Committee. S/he shall render to the chairperson and to the Executive Committee periodic reports of their transactions as Treasurer, and of the financial condition of the Committee. The treasurer shall be a member ex-officio of the Finance Standing committee.
B. The Assistant Treasurer shall have all the powers and responsibilities stipulated in Article XIII (A). and shall serve as Treasurer in the absence or disability of the Treasurer.
Article XIV – Meetings
The chairperson may call a meeting of the Committee at any time upon written notice to each member of the Committee, sent electronically or to those members who request it by U.S. Postal Service, postage prepaid, at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting.
Upon written request of twenty-five (25) or more Committee members, the chairperson shall call a meeting and send written notice of said meeting at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting date. In no case shall there be less than one City Committee meeting a year.
Article XV – Duties of the City Committee
The immediate governance and direction of the affairs of the Democratic Party in Burlington shall be vested in the Committee. It shall be the duty of the members to promptly answer all communications from any elected or appointed official of the Committee. The Committee members shall attend all meetings of the Committee and shall report the activities of the Committee to the County Committee and maintain a close liaison therewith, and work for more efficiency within the Party organization.
Article XVI – Resignations
Any committee member or officer may resign at any time. Such resignation shall be made in writing and shall take effect at any time specified therein or if no time is specified, then it shall take effect upon receipt by the chairperson or the recording officer, who shall record the resignation. The acceptance of the resignation by the vote of the Committee shall not be necessary to make it effective.
Article XVII – Filling of vacancies of officers
Any vacancies on the Executive Committee shall be filled temporarily by majority vote of the Executive Committee until a meeting duly called of the Committee for the purpose of electing a replacement to fill the unexpired term of the vacant position or at the next regular meeting. Such a meeting shall take place within 60 days after a resignation.
Article XVIII- Standing Subcommittees
There shall be established the following standing committees:
Finance & Fundraising
Registration & Elections
Publicity & Communications
Chairpersons of the standing committees may select members from outside the membership of the City Committee.
Article XIX – Duties and Operations of the Subcommittees
A. The Executive Committee – shall serve as a communication link with the Ward Committees and the subcommittees. The chairperson shall consult with the Executive Committee on all major party issues. The Executive Committee shall approve a budget for presentation and final approval by the Committee at its annual meeting. The Executive Committee may direct the Issues Committee to prepare a Draft Burlington Democratic Platform for consideration by the Burlington City Democratic Committee at its biennial reorganization meeting or a meeting specially called for that purpose. The chairperson shall call at least three (3) meetings per year of this committee.
B. Finance & Fundraising – The duties of the Finance Committee shall be to plan ways and means of support for the operations of the Committee, and to recommend to the Executive Committee the use of those funds. The treasurer shall make available an annual report to the Finance Committee.
C. Registration & Elections – It shall have primary responsibility for registering all the probable voters. It shall keep accurate records of new voters and shall make the records available to the Elections Committee. It shall also be concerned with the promotion of Ward or District organization to “get out the vote.” It shall recruit Democratic candidates for the city, state and national offices and assist with the establishment, plans and operation of campaign headquarters.
D. Publicity & Communications – It shall publicize the Democratic Party and its activities in the city and assist in coordination of campaigning on behalf of duly nominated candidates.
E. Issues – In addition to the Issues Committee Chair appointed by the City Chairperson and any other members selected by the chair of the Issues Committee, each Democratic City Councilor shall be an ex officio member of the Issues Committee. It shall be responsible for research and studies on vital issues. It shall do the same with respect to legislation policy and platform recommendations. When so directed by the Executive Committee, the Issues Committee shall be responsible for preparing a draft Burlington Democratic Platform for the Committee’s consideration at its biennial reorganization meeting or at such other meeting as may be noticed for that purpose. The draft platform shall be submitted to the members of the Committee no later than seven (7) days prior to the meeting at which it is to be considered. Adoption of any platform shall be by majority vote.
In addition to the above-described duties, it shall be the duty of all subcommittees to present a report to the City Committee at each committee meeting.
Article XX – Ward Committees
There shall be established in each ward of the City a Ward Committee, which shares the purpose of the City Committee as stated in Article II.
A. Membership: The Ward Committees shall be composed of every Democrat residing within a ward who has submitted their name either orally or in writing – at either a nominating caucus for City offices or the biennial reorganization meetings. Additional members may be added by vote of the Ward Committee at any ward committee meeting. These new members may be eligible to vote immediately, if so determined by the Committee before their addition.
B. Officers: As per Article IV, except that in the event of a vacancy of any position, the responsibilities of that position shall accrue to the corresponding officer of the Executive Committee who shall serve as the ward officer until such time as the vacancy is filled.
C. Quorum: a quorum shall be determined by the individual ward committees.
D. Voting: As per Article VI.
E. Committee organization and election of officers: To the extent Ward Committee Officers are not selected at the biennial reorganization meeting as provided in Article VII, the ward chairperson may call a meeting to elect ward officers.
In the event of a contest for any office, voting shall as prescribed by Article VI.
F. Duties of the ward chairperson: The chairperson shall be the general executive officer of the Ward Committee. It shall be the chairperson’s duty to maintain an updated list of all committee members and to provide a copy of the list to the City Chairperson on or before the biennial reorganization meeting.
G. Duties of the vice chairperson: All the duties of the chairperson shall be vested in the vice-chairperson in the absence or disability of the chairperson.
H. Duties of the recording officer: as per Article XII with deletion of the last sentence.
I. Duties of the treasurer and assistant treasurer: as per article XIII.
J. Meetings: may be called at any time by the ward chairperson or the City Chairperson with seven (7) days notice, or at the request of five (5) or more members of the committee. In any case, there shall be no less than three meeting per year.
K. Duties of the Ward Committees: as per article XV.
L. Resignations: as per article XVI.
M. Filling of vacancies: as per article XVII, except that if no person has been appointed after a position has been vacated for thirty days, the Executive Committee may fill the vacancy pursuant to a majority vote of its members at any meeting.
N. In the event a ward committee fails to hold an organizational meeting as prescribed by this article, such organizational meeting may be held at the biennial reorganizational meeting of the City Committee.
Article XXI – Amendments
These by-laws may be amended by a simple majority vote of those present and voting at any meeting of the Committee, provided that either:
1. written notice of the proposed amendment is given to all committee members at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting; or
2. at any meeting at which consideration of amendments to these by-laws is being considered after proper notice has been delivered as prescribed in sub-part 1 above, additional amendments may be submitted to the Committee for its consideration upon approval by two thirds of the members present at the meeting.
All rules, by-laws and amendments shall be filed with the secretary of state, and the copies shall be official copies.
Article XXII – Miscellaneous
Questions of parliamentary procedure, if not herein provided for, shall be decided in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, Revised.
Adopted September 14, 2005
Amended November 14,2012
Amended May 21, 2014
Amended November 30, 2020