As a court battle plays out to determine the Democratic candidates in the City Council’s 133rd District, maneuvering is underway to select a new legislative leader December 4 to replace outgoing Tom McCarthy. But incoming council member Ernie Newton who served as council president back in the early 1980s says there’s no compelling reason to choose a new council president. He’s urging a vote delayed until all council members are seated.
“Everyone should have a say-so on the next council president,” says Newton.
Big Mac will still be a seated council member, based on City Charter language, as well as Jeanette Herron until resolution of a court challenge by Bob Keeley who’s contesting absentee ballots from the Democratic primary do-over. The district general election is scheduled for Dec. 12.
But does that mean McCarthy still remains president until a successor?
From the charter:
At the beginning of each term of office the city council shall elect from among its members one council member to be president of the city council who shall serve for a term until November 30 of the next odd-numbered year or until the president of the council’s successor has been elected.
McCarthy says he will stay on to represent the district until a successor is elected, but remaining as council president in the interim is not something he wants to do. He says he will cast a vote for council president if a vote advances on Monday.
Herron’s name has been floated as a potential candidate for council president. East Side councilor Aidee Nieves is also among the mix. East End council member Eneida Martinez has expressed interest in the position. South End/Downtown councilwoman Denese Taylor-Moye and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia from the North End 134th District as well. And then, there’s Newton who says he’d like the position he had way back in 1981. In discussions with council members it appears Nieves and Taylor-Moye have the most votes.
The City Attorney’s Office will likely make a ruling on the particulars of a council presidency vote, with the legislative branch in unchartered territory.
From Chapter 5, Section 1(c) City Charter
Council members shall serve for a term of two years from the first day of December next succeeding their election and until their successors are elected and have qualified.
From the charter:
At the beginning of each term of office the city council shall elect from among its members one council member to be president of the city council who shall serve for a term until November 30 of the next odd-numbered year or until the president of the council’s successor has been elected. The president of the city council shall preside in the absence of the mayor, and when so presiding shall have a casting vote in case of a tie in addition to his/her vote as council member. In the absence of the mayor and the president of the city council at any meeting, the city council may choose one of its members to act as president for the occasion who, when so presiding, shall have a casting vote in case of a tie in addition to his/her vote as council member. In the event of the death, resignation or inability to act of the president of the city council, the council shall elect another president in his place.
… The mayor shall preside at the meetings of the city council, but shall have no vote therein except in case of a tie. The mayor shall not vote to break a tie in the election of city council president or adoption of an ordinance.
… In the event that the mayor is temporarily absent or temporarily disabled and is, because of such absence or disability, unable to perform the duties of his office, the president of the city council shall possess all of the powers and perform all of the duties of the mayor until the mayor is able to act.
… In the event that a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the office of mayor, the president of the city council shall act as mayor, until the office of mayor is filled as provided in subSection (c) of this section.
Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor, other than during the final year of such mayor’s term of office, the city council shall cause a special election for the office of mayor to be held not less than 120 nor more than 150 days from the date that such vacancy occurs. The person elected mayor at such special election shall take office on the 7th calendar day following his/her election and shall serve the unexpired portion of the term vacated. In the event the vacancy occurs during the final year of the mayor’s term, the president of the city council shall become mayor and serve for the unexpired portion of the term vacated.