Sunday, June 16, 2024

City councillors Quinton Zondervan and Patty Nolan prepare to enter Monday’s inaugural ceremony. Both are poised for new leadership roles on council committees in the coming term. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The new City Council term is bringing some big shifts in committee assignments, realigning who oversees debates shaping the biggest topics that come to the council for votes. Some change on the full, nine-member body was needed because longtime councillor Tim Toomey retired at the end of last term and councillor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler wasn’t reelected; but returning Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui also made some changes only tangentially affected by those departures and the arrival of first-termers Burhan Azeem and Paul Toner.

Siddiqui’s proposed changes are on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

  • The Ordinance Committee, which considers the merit of any law proposed to or by the council, which are often zoning issues affecting real estate citywide, keeps councillor Marc McGovern as co-chair but replaces Dennis Carlone with Quinton Zondervan.
  • Similarly, Carlone stays as co-chair of the Finance Committee to help oversee the budget process, but councillor E. Denise Simmons has been replaced by Patty Nolan.
  • Simmons is also gone as the sole chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, which looks at how well city services function and the rules of the council itself, replaced by Alanna Mallon, the council’s returning vice mayor.
  • The Housing Committee, which last term had co-chairs in Simmons and Sobrinho-Wheeler, will now be led by Simmons alone.
  • Economic Development & University Relations, last year led by Mallon, will be led for the next two years by Toner.
  • Responsibilities for Health & Environment, formerly led by Zondervan, now fall to Nolan.
  • Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration, which had been led by Nolan, will now be overseen by Carlone.
  • Transportation & Public Utilities, which had been run by Sobrinho-Wheeler, will be run by Azeem.

Three council committee will keep their chairs from the previous term: Human Services & Veterans, led by McGovern, who is trained as a social worker; Civic Unity, led by Simmons, as it has been for several terms; and Public Safety, led by Zondervan, allowing him to revive a funding order for a policing alternative run by the city’s Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team. It was heard in committee Dec. 21, too late to be submitted to the full council before the new term.

Planning and zoning leadership

Other bodies have held elections since the new year.

The Planning Board voted Tuesday on a chair and vice chair, choosing to stay with those from the previous one-year terms: Catherine Preston Connolly and Mary Flynn, respectively. Flynn ran the process for Connolly, who wasn’t at the meeting, but whom she said was “more than willing to serve another term. That does not preclude other people from nominating others.” That brought a joke from member Steven Cohen: “I always like to nominate the person who is not in the room.” There were no competing nominations for either role, and Connolly and Flynn were reelected unanimously to lead the seven-member board. Associate members Alan Price and Ashley Tan also voted.

The five-person Board of Zoning Appeal met Thursday and saw member Brendan Sullivan unanimously elected chair after longtime chair Gus Alexander said he would step down. Jim Monteverde was elected vice chair after member Andrea Hickey said she too was leaving.

Voters approved charter changes on the November ballot that make this the first year city councillors get to confirm the city manager’s appointments to appointed bodies such as the Board of Zoning Appeal.