PITTSFIELD -- Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo is poised to become the next president of the City Council, according to local political observers.
She is believed to have a comfortable majority of votes pledged to her in her bid to succeed Council President Kevin J. Sherman, who did not seek re-election.
"I have had people approach me and ask me to try for president," Mazzeo said last week. "I intend to."
She said her name will be placed in nomination but declined further comment.
The vote will come during the council's organizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 6, following the day's inaugural events.
City councilors, School Committee members, the city clerk and Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi will be sworn in for new -- and in a few cases first -- terms of office, beginning at at 10 a.m. in council chambers in City Hall.
After she is administered the oath of office by Berkshire Probate and Family Court First Justice Richard A. Simons, City Clerk Linda Tyer will swear in School Committee members and the 11 councilors for 2013-15.
Three were elected to the council for the first time in November. For the first time, the School Committee will be sworn in at the inaugural ceremonies with the city government officials.
If elected president, Mazzeo would be the second woman to serve in the post. The late Imelda C. LaMountain was elected council president after the 1989 election. That year also saw a second term for city's first woman mayor, Anne Everest Wojkowski, who defeated then-Council President Angelo C. Stracuzzi for a second term.
Ward 5 Councilor and Council Vice President Jonathan Lothrop has previously expressed an interest in the council presidency. "I have publicly said I would be interested in being president," he said this week, "and if you asked me do I believe I have the skills to be council president, I think I do."
But Lothrop said he believes it's "premature to say anything more about that now." And he said he's witnessed divisive campaigns for council president and would not want to see that happen next year.
Lothrop added that ideally, "Every councilor should search their own conscience and choose who they think will be best for the council." At the end of the day, he said, "no matter what happens, the council has to go forward."
After the council reorganizes for the next term, Bianchi will be sworn in and then deliver his inaugural address.
Bianchi, the city's 38th mayor, said he will briefly speak about the past two years and about his goals for the next two -- including initiatives in public safety, education, the economy and other areas.
He said plans for the reception following the ceremonies remain incomplete at this time.
Bianchi will be the last Pittsfield mayor to serve a two-year term, as under the new government charter, mayors will serve a four-year term, beginning with the 2015 election.
A former councilor, he succeeded former Mayor James M. Ruberto, winning a first term in 2011 by a 106-vote margin over former Councilor Peter Marchetti. Bianchi was unopposed in the Nov. 5 election.
Sherman, elected as a councilor at large, replaced Gerald M. Lee as council president in 2011.
Filling the at large vacancy created with Sherman's departure is longtime School Committee member Kathleen Amuso, who was elected to the council in November.
Also new to the council in 2014 will be Ward 1 Councilor-elect Lisa Tully, who defeated incumbent Christine Yon in the election. Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo will replace incumbent Paul Capitanio, who did not seek re-election.
Caccamo defeated Richard Latura in the election.
School Committee members to serve in the next term are incumbents Katherine Yon and Daniel Elias, and newcomers Anthony Riello, Cynthia Taylor, Pamela Farron and Joshua Cutler. The mayor also serves on the committee.
To reach Jim Therrien:
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On Twitter: @BE_therrien