As the top vote-getter once again among City Council candidates in the November city election, Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo can make an excellent case to be the next council president, and she may have enough votes locked up from fellow councilors to succeed Kevin Sherman, who chose not to run for re-election to the council (Eagle, Dec. 15). If elected, she may be a much different council president than her immediate predecessors.
Ms. Mazzeo would be the second woman president, following in the footsteps of the late Imelda C. LaMountain, who won the post in 1990. She has a firm grasp of council and city rules and procedures, and has succeeded in exposing contradictions and inconsistencies in those rules and procedures that needed to be addressed. She would be an ally of Mayor Daniel Bianchi, just as former City Council President Gerald Lee was an ally of former Mayor James Ruberto.
It was impossible to tell from the way he ran meetings that the scrupulously fair and even-handed Mr. Lee was a supporter of the mayor, and Mr. Sherman was similarly by the book. A critic of Mayor Ruberto, Ms. Mazzeo has shown little patience with council critics of Mayor Bianchi, and regardless of her opinion about critics of the current mayor and his administration, as a council president she would have to give them the same latitude in questioning the mayor and his department heads as she was given during the Ruberto years.
The laconic Mr. Lee, a man of few but well-chosen words, and Mr. Sherman, eased into a role that is largely that of referee. Ms. Mazzeo, like several of her colleagues past and present, is more inclined than her predecessors to ask questions and make statements, and that style would have to change as president.
Ward 5 Councilor and Council Vice President Jonathan Lothrop, who has also demonstrated his knowledge of arcane city rules, as well as the ability to disagree with fellow councilors without making it personal, has expressed an interest in the presidency, but he is right that campaigns for the post can create divisiveness that carries over into the new term. Each councilor must make his or her decision as to who would best serve as president, and then, inevitable disagreements aside, all must find a middle ground that the city can move forward upon.