Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why It Always Pays to Vote for Yourself

The talk around Cambridge this afternoon, if people here were to actually talk of such things which we don't, is that the city finally has a new mayor.

The old mayor's term expired on December 31 following the November 8 election. But voters in Cambridge do not select the new mayor, that task instead falls to the newly elected city council. Cambridge has a city manager to run things, and the city council is often so slow to fill the mayor's job that it becomes a joke whether one is actually needed.

The mayor's job comes with a $35,000 stipend on top of the $70,000 city councillor salary, so the usual practice for at least the first few ballots is for every city councillor to vote for himself or herself. All for one, and not for nothing, I suppose.

This year two factions emerged in the voting. Leland Cheung, the second-term city councillor who received the most votes in the November election, was backed by newcomer Minka vanBeuzekom and former mayor Denise Simmons. Marjorie Decker, the twelve-year veteran city councillor some in this city love to hate, was backed by former mayors David Maher and Ken Reeves.

Craig Kelley, Tim Toomey, and Henrietta Davis were unwilling to join either camp. As these 3 councillors are neither newcomers nor former mayors, one suspects each held out hope that it was their turn for the job. Plus, Kelley and Toomey are reputedly arch-rivals on the council. You can see why this might take a while. With the 2 leading candidates unlikely to vote for someone else, that means 5 of the remaining 7 councillors had to agree on a candidate to get someone elected.

Ultimately, the Cheung party collapsed with Denise Simmons breaking away to vote for Henrietta Davis. She was joined by Minka vanBeuzekom on the next ballot along with David Maher and Tim Toomey for the five votes needed.

So congratulations to Henrietta Davis, the newly elected mayor of our fair city.

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