Wednesday, July 17, 2024

City councillors took three more unsuccessful votes for mayor Monday, with Ken Reeves taking his vote away from Marjorie Decker and giving it to himself and Craig Kelley opting to give up on his own election and support Reeves.

That meant the night’s votes ended with an unchanged three votes for second-term councillor Leland Cheung, Decker dropping to two votes (her own and that of David Maher), two for Reeves and one each for Henrietta Davis and Tim Toomey — their own.

It seemed at first a decision was imminent, because Cheung made a motion even before the meeting’s public comment period to hold a mayoral vote to the start of the meeting. Mayoral votes are typically held at the end. But the reason was councillor Denise Simmons’ illness, Cheung explained after the meeting. Simmons was able to leave after the vote and recover at home.

Decker noted Toomey’s absence and asked that the vote wait for him to appear, prompting Cheung to apologize, retract his motion and explain that he thought Toomey was in the council’s private rooms, about to enter.

Henrietta Davis agreed the vote should wait for Toomey — but not too long, another hint that a final vote was in the offing.

But when he arrived at 5:49 p.m., and the vote was taken after the next speaker finished her public comment, there was no candidate with the five votes needed for consensus. After a fourth ballot sticking to the numbers of the previous two meetings, Reeves got his two votes on the fifth ballot and kept them for the sixth.

Toomey had tried to end the votes with the fifth ballot, but City Clerk Margaret Drury said Cheung had spoken first. The sixth was taken, resulting in no change. The delay is by no means a record — more than 1,300 ballots were taken in 1948 — but keeps committee chairs from being assigned and delays a permanent leader for the School Committee.

For the second and third ballots, councillors were deadlocked at three votes for Cheung (from himself, Simmons and Minka vanBeuzekom) and three for Decker (from herself, Maher and Reeves); and one each for Davis, Kelley and Toomey, with each of those members voting for themselves to be mayor. The balloting began Jan. 2 with two each for Cheung (with vanBeuzekom), Decker and Maher, and one each for Henrietta Davis, Craig Kelley and Simmons.

Kelley told the council he wouldn’t be at Monday’s meeting for a vote, and Decker asked again to hear the rules for calling a special meeting for the purposes of voting.

“I think there is a sense of urgency, if committee are to be assigned,” Decker said. “I know the School Committee also has a lot on its plate.”