So Jimmy Ferrera has secured another term as president of the City Council—although it wasn’t the prettiest win.
In an informal vote at Monday’s meeting (the formal vote will take place at the Council’s first meeting of 2013, on Jan. 7), a majority of councilors voted in support of Ferrera, including Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak, who had floated his own name as a candidate but then backed off once it became clear that Ferrera had the votes he needed.
But three other councilors declined to vote to return Ferrera to another term as president—Ward 2’s Michael Fenton, Ward 7’s Tim Allen and at-large Councilor Kateri Walsh all opted to vote simply “present.”
Call them what you will (Fenton told Western Mass Politics and Insight that his vote reflected his belief that presidents shouldn’t serve multiple consecutive terms), but those “present” votes are a snub, not as extreme as a flat-out “no” vote but still a departure for the unanimous public support of a new president that the Council, in more pacific years, likes to show. That’s not to say that all sorts of bickering and horse trading and even backstabbing don’t happen when it comes time to select the Council’s new leader; it’s just that those battles typically happen under the radar.
Last year’s change of leadership, of course, was especially dramatic: after being elected to his first term as president, Ferrera gave particularly lame committee assignments to Allen and Fenton—and then insisted that those assignments had nothing to do with the fact that the former had launched his own presidency bid, with the latter as his chief supporter. Will Allen, Fenton and Walsh find themselves in the committee doghouse this year? Will fences be mended between now and the formal vote on Jan. 7 so that all councilors—grudgingly or not—cast their final votes for Ferrera? Stay tuned.