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Henrietta Davis was elected mayor Wednesday at a special meeting of the City Council, exactly as far into the year as David Maher was elected mayor in 2010.
But while Maher was elected on the sixth ballot cast by councillors in the two months after their inauguration, this term the uncertainty was drawn out to the 10th ballot. A ninth ballot, taken moments earlier, had resulted in another deadlock of two votes for Marjorie Decker (from Decker and Maher), two for Leland Cheung (from Cheung and Minka vanBeuzekom), two for Craig Kelley (from Kelley and Ken Reeves) and two for Davis (from Davis and Denise Simmons) as well as one vote from Tim Toomey for David Maher. Simmons’ switch was significant, as her past votes had been reliably for Cheung.
After the 10th ballot, which drew five votes for Davis from Davis herself, Maher, Simmons, Toomey and vanBeuzekom, a vote for vice mayor was held, with Simmons the first vote for every councillor but Cheung, who then changed his vote to give Simmons a clean sweep. Something similar had happened for Davis, with Decker, then Reeves, Kelley and Cheung making it unanimous.
Davis, first elected to the council in 1996, served as vice mayor last term. Simmons, now in her sixth term as a councillor, was mayor for the 2008-09 term, gaining some fame for being America’s first openly lesbian black mayor. Both were sworn in Wednesday by City Clerk Margaret Drury, with Davis noting that she was the last mayor — she hoped — to be granted that honor, since Drury is retiring at the end of the month after serving since 1992.
Although it is only Cheung’s second term, the support of Simmons and vanBeuzekom, his energy in legislating, extraordinary re-election statistics and letters to the editor to various sites seemed to give his chances a boost.
The 10th ballot was taken at about 8:15 p.m. (Reeves, running the meeting on an interim basis as the longest-serving councillor, said at its 5:44 p.m. start that the election could take place then, but no one bit. A hearing on a mass transit crisis went first.) A Twitter account belonging to a pseudonymous Anita Fix, though, said at 6:33 p.m. that “It’s Washington’s BD and I cannot tell a lie: The backroom deal has been struck. Congrats Mayor Davis!”
Anita Fix, who describes herself as a “Twenty-something townie chick and prospective 2013 City Council candidate,” has tweeted only once before, on Jan. 28, also about the election but not about Davis. In the case of her Wednesday tweet she had time beforehand to put together an image of George Washington crossing the Delaware with Davis’ face in place of Washington’s.
It’s relabeled “Davis crossing the Charles.”