City Council President Jimmy Ferrera’s seat hasn’t yet gotten cold—in fact, he’ll be sitting in it through next month—but the next Council president is already lined up and ready to assume the gavel.
Yesterday, Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton announced that he’s secured enough votes to become the next Council president. According to a press release he sent out, Fenton has the backing of Ward 3’s Melvin Edwards, Ward 4’s E. Henry Twiggs, Ward 5’s Clodo Concepcion, Ward 6’s Ken Shea, Ward 7’s Timothy C. Allen, at-large Councilors Tommy Ashe, Tim Rooke and Kateri Walsh, plus incoming at-large Councilor Justin Hurst, who was elected on Tuesday—replacing Ferrera, who finished sixth in the contest for five at-large seats.
There’s nothing untoward about Fenton announcing his presidency win so early; indeed, in recent years, councilors have rushed to sew up the necessary votes months and months in advance.
But there’s a certain piquancy, if you will, to Fenton’s succeeding Ferrera: there’s been no love lost between the two councilors, going back to Ferrera’s first turn as president, when he declined to appoint Fenton to any of the Council’s regular committee, as—rumors held—payback for not supporting his candidacy for president. (Ferrera denied any political motives.)
Public gestures at making up notwithstanding, it’s remained clear that the two never became besties, instead butting heads on issues such as the proposed residency requirement for city workers. So it’s easy to wonder if Fenton’s press release contains, at least in part, a veiled rebuke of Ferrera’s tenure: “Fenton said that people should expect one thing above all else during his tenure –‘fairness.’
“The law will be enforced and we will conduct orderly business on behalf of the citizens of Springfield who have entrusted us to lead this city.”
Fenton added: “I look forward to working with old friends and new members of the Council to push forward an aggressive year of legislating.”
Fenton’s announcement also included two fun-facts about his presidency: he’ll be the first ward councilor to hold the position, and, at 26, he’s the youngest to assume that role.
According to tradition, the councilors will elect their new president at a caucus in December, with the final, formal vote taking place at the January inauguration—the same day that Hurst and Orlando Ramos, who defeated incumbent John Lysak for the Ward 8 seat, will join the body.