August 30, 2014

Blackwood confirmed as Burlington’s attorney

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Williston resident receives unanimous approval from Burlington City Council

 

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

It’s official: Eileen Blackwood is the new Burlington city attorney.

On July 16, a week after Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger named Blackwood, a Williston resident, as his choice for city attorney, the City Council made it official.

In a July 8 memorandum to council members, Weinberger cited Blackwood’s “extensive experience,” adding that she has “excellent skills as a listener and communicator” and a “long-standing, extensive record of service to her community.”

Blackwood, who received her Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School, has been a partner in the Hinesburg law firm Kohn Rath Blackwood & Danon LLP since 2009, when she and Beth Danon merged their Burlington practice with Roger Kohn and David Rath’s Hinesburg-based business.

A member of the Vermont Bar Association since 1987, Blackwood served as its president from Sept. 2009 to Sept. 2010.

Blackwood’s Williston ties run deep.

As a member of the Williston Planning Commission from 1990-2002, she had a front row seat for the largest population surge in the town’s history.

In July 2000, Blackwood made the front page of the Williston Whistle when she and her partner of 13 years, Lynn Goyette, became one of the first gay or lesbian couples in the nation to join in civil union, in a ceremony officiated by Justice of the Peace and Whistle co-founder Louise Ransom.

Blackwood’s appointment comes after Weinberger withdrew his nomination of Burlington-based attorney Ian Carleton, following controversy over Carleton’s close friendship with the mayor and his demand for a higher salary than prescribed by the city’s stepped pay system.

Prior to receiving unanimous confirmation by the City Council at its July 16 meeting, Blackwood offered her take on the position held by Ken Schatz since 2007.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity. Ken Schatz will leave some tough shoes to fill, but I’m very excited about the opportunity to serve the city,” Blackwood told the council.

Weinberger’s memo states that Blackwood intends to begin her work as Burlington city attorney in either the last week of August or the first week of September. It also notes that she intends to abide by the residency requirements of the job and move to Burlington.

Blackwood is the first woman to serve as Burlington city attorney.

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