Pam Mackenzie, City Council Clerk

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Wednesday April 04, 2012

After moving from place to place as the daughter of an Air Force serviceman, South Burlington’s newest City Council Clerk, Pam Mackenzie, is glad to have found Vermont and to stay put.

Mackenzie was born in Colorado and lived in Hawaii and San Franciso during her younger years.  After graduating high school she began her career  in telecommunications working for Comcast, and again, moved all over the country to Wyoming, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., Arizona, West Virginia, Ohio, and Connecticut.

In 2009, Mackenzie ultimately relocated to Vermont with Comcast and quickly fell in love with the state. She had what she calls an “aha moment,” and chose to leave her 30-year post with Comcast to stay in Vermont, namely South Burlington.

“My favorite places in [the city] are the farmers’ market at Healthy Living, and breakfast at Arcadia Diner on Sunday mornings,” Mackenzie says.

The Vermont Business Roundtable was the next step along her career path during which time the Governor asked her to serve as Chair for the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.  Although she had left her position in communications, the chairmanship of the VTA allowed her to continue to work in the industry that she has been passionate about for her entire career.  She now serves as VTA Chairman of the Board. 

Mackenzie spends her days both connecting the people of Vermont, and connecting with the people of Vermont.  In addition to her VTA work, she also is a member of the Board of Directors at United Way, serves as Chair for Vermont Public Television, and is working with the State Librarian to ensure that each library has WiFi hotspots in the state of Vermont. 

With Vermont’s varied topography, there is no one solution to fill all of the gaps in cell service.  “We are working to fill in holes for all cellular services in Vermont, and we have made amazing progress.”  Mackenzie is assisting in a statewide push for a smart grid to be built, and it is the technology of mobile business that truly excites her.  “We’re trying to lessen the amount that people say can you hear me now?” she laughs. 

Because of her telecommunications work with the State and Federal legislature and many family political talks at the dinner table, Mackenzie has always been comfortable with and invested in politics. She decided recently that it was time to start to get involved with the City Council.  It has always been a part of her life plan to give back to the community.  She was elected to the Council by voters during Town Meeting early this month and was elected as clerk by her fellow councilors at their first organizational meeting a few weeks later.

As the Clerk in her two-year seat on the Council, Mackenzie will sign warrants, drafts, and financial transactions presented by City Manager Sandy Miller on behalf of the city of South Burlington.

Mackenzie weighs-in on City Council  Hot Topics

IZ: Interim Zoning is an issue that Mackenzie says she has a lot of time for.  She believes that it consists of a proposal without a plan, and would be an extra step for the City Council and will require a significant amount of training and time.  She would like to see an economic impact study done, and believes that developers have been kept at arm’s length for far too long. 

Complete Streets: The City Council approved the Complete Streets test on Monday, March 19th. Mackenzie thinks that testing is a good idea, because it is the only way residents and administrators will know whether or not to pull the plug.  “The Department of Transportation says that traffic will be forced onto neighborhood streets,” she said.  She ultimately does not want to risk the lives of the people on the side streets off of Williston Road, but she believes that the test will help bring perspective to the city. 

Budget: Mackenzie would like to reduce the amount spent on legal fees, and increase library funding and funding for an eventual city center.

City Council Perception: Primarily, what Mackenzie wants to see changed is the city’s perception of the City Council, to build transparency, loosen tension, and to create a welcoming environment for the public. She believes that democracy belongs to all citizens, not just those who speak the loudest.  She wants the City Council to work with what she calls a “kitchen cabinet” of the various ingredients necessary to succeed.  She wants to stay grounded with folks who have never been involved in politics, as well as experts.  “All perspectives help keep that cabinet full,” she says.

SOURCE: Lisa Mattingly, Correspondent