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Sullivan Elected to Second Term as Mayor of Cambridge on First Ballot

By Frank Dabek

STAFF REPORTER

Michael A. Sullivan was elected to a second consecutive term as mayor of Cambridge by his fellow city councillors at Monday’s inaugural council meeting. Sullivan defeated a bid by perennial mayoral hopeful Henrietta Davis and was elected in a 5-4 initial vote.

In a brief address following his election, Sullivan reflected on the council’s work over the past two years (all nine members of the council were re-elected in November), with particular focus on the relationship between Cambridge and local universities. “Sure as heck we have a long way to go” towards better town-gown relationships, Sullivan said.

Under Cambridge’s “Plan E” government, the mayor is elected by the city council from their membership. The position is mostly ceremonial but the mayor is, notably, chair of the school committee.

Councillor Marjorie Decker was elected as vice chair of the council in a vote that was, as amended, unanimous.

Election marked by deals

Sullivan’s election was not without the political fireworks and back-room deals that local political junkies savor and councillors seem increasingly eager to avoid.

Davis apparently believed that she had the support of five councillors going into the meeting. “I had higher aspirations,” she said, visibly shaken, as her only comment after the meeting.

In an apparent attempt to undermine Sullivan’s bid, two of the councillors supporting Davis initially (Brian Murphy and Denise Simmons) later changed their votes to Councillor Kenneth Reeves to entice him to change his vote from Sullivan to himself and therefore force the election to a second ballot.

Galluccio drops bid before meeting

Former mayor and top vote getter in the general election, Anthony D. Galluccio, made a strong run for mayor in the pre-inaugural campaigning. “I had ... [a] commitment of four votes today,” Galluccio said shortly after the meeting.

Galluccio said that he attempted to secure a fifth and decisive vote from Councillor David Maher who has a political outlook and voting base similar to Galluccio’s but was unsuccessful. Galluccio decided “after a couple restless nights” to release his supporters of their commitments and allow Sullivan to be elected instead of dragging the mayoral election beyond the inaugural meeting.

Galluccio characterized this mayoral election as a referendum on Cambridge’s mayoral system. He said that he favors reforming the city’s charter to allow for a democratically elected mayor. Galluccio said that he gave up his bid so that a mayor could be chosen at the inaugural meeting in order to enhance the prestige of the mayor’s office and to allow school committee business to begin immediately. “I obviously made a sacrifice today,” he said. “I care too much about this city” to delay the mayor’s election.

Under Cambridge’s “weak mayor” system most of the day-to-day business of the city is handled by an appointed city manager. Galluccio said that he wishes to retain the city manager form of government rather than move to a “strong mayor” government.

Other councillors also criticized the mayoral election system. Maher called it “electioneering.” “It’s too bad there isn’t a more civilized way to do this,” he said.

Galluccio’s arrangements also helped pick the vice chair. Galluccio gave his support to Marjorie Decker in the vice-chair election, he said. The same five councillors who elected Sullivan elected Decker.