It’s hard not to see City Councilor Jose Tosado’s recent announcement that he’s sewn up enough support to become the Council’s next president as the start of perhaps a bigger campaign, for a higher seat.
Tosado was the highest vote-getter in last week’s Council race, with 11,951 votes. (That’s about 3,000 fewer votes than Mayor Domenic Sarno received in his decided victory over challenger Bud Williams. After Sarno, the highest vote-getter on last week’s ballot was, quite justly, outspoken and fearless School Committee member Antonette Pepe, who won an at-large seat with 12,278 votes.)
Now Tosado says he’s secured the votes of 10 of the 13 members of the newly restructured City Council for the president’s seat. While the president’s power is largely ceremonial (oh, the power of banging that little gavel), for the politically ambitious it can be a useful bully pulpit.
It’s no secret that Tosado has the mayor’s office in his sights; indeed, for a time, it was widely expected that he would challenge incumbent Domenic Sarno this year. In the end, however, Tosado deferred to Council colleague Bud Williams, who lost to Sarno in last week’s election.
Would Tosado fare better than Williams in 2011? Well, it's hard to imagine doing worse than Williams' crash-and-burn performance. Certainly, Tosado seems to be positioning himself smartly; note, for instance, recent quotes in the Springfield Republican in which he extols the diversity of the new Council and generally takes a higher-road approach than Williams’ grumpily negative mayoral campaign did. “I look forward to working with all of [the councilors] and with the mayor’s office as we move forward together in leading Springfield in a positive direction,” Tosado told the newspaper. Sarno, meanwhile, had lost one of his strongest supporters on the Council—veteran Bill Foley, who opted not to run for re-election—while Sarno critics like Tim Rooke and Jimmy Ferrera were re-elected.
While Tosado might be securing himself a nice position as eyes turn toward the next election, by no means should he expect an easy run for the mayor’s office. Sarno enters his second term with an impressive victory at the polls and the hard-won experience and confidence that comes after a tough first term. Meanwhile, with voters recently approving a new, four-year mayoral term starting in 2011—and with efforts still underway to raise the mayor’s salary—the city could see an especially strong field of candidates next time.