Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Decision 2007: The Shoe Drops...

The people have spoken, well, approximately 27% of registered voters spoke. Uncle Charlie is out, Sarno is in [shriek]. The City Council stayed mostly the same, although the good guys already there hung in, and a new face will join their ranks.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Charles Ryan lost to Domenic Sarno for Mayor. Sarno garnered 11096 votes to Ryan's 9964. This loss is a shock, though not entirely surprising. Unfortunately, Ryan was impaled upon the October Surprise of Flynn's job-hunting and other recent developments. Odds are implementations such as the Trash Fee did not help. Do expect the city losing about $100,000 around January 1st, when the new mayor is sworn in. Surely he will ask Flynn to tender his resignation then.

Sarno's election, partly luck, partly October surprises, and partly voter apathy in Springfield, will require the nascent reform movements in the city to work twice as hard. It is impossible to truly know Sarno's plans, and with the Control Board in power, little is likely to change...until this time two years from now when local control will resume.

May I be proven wrong, but I issue a call to all residents of Springfield and anybody to who cares about Springfield near and far. BE ALERT! Know what is going on. Be on the look out for moves made by Sarno that could jeopardize the city's financial disposition-anywhere. Please pardon my paranoia, but he was a member of the city council during the previous administration and thus has blood on his hands.

To Mr. Sarno, I would say this. "...Watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come..." Mark 13:35. We, the people, Mr. Sarno are the master of the house and the house is our city of Springfield.

On to the City Council. No big surprises here. The vitriol on this blog proved no match for the thousands of voters who believe that this 16 Acres resident stands for anything other than getting re-elected and at the top slot (11023 votes). For you Mr. Tosado goes the same as for Mr. Sarno.

Luckily behind him was Tim Rooke (9657). It is nice to see a man of action and integrity near the top of the list. Political relic Bill Foley took number slot 3 (9583). Bud Williams (9551), Kateri Walsh (9135), and Idea bank Rosemarie Mazza-Moriarty (8966) rounded out the top six.

Newcomer Patrick Markey (8477) rocketed past two incumbents to take slot number 7. Typically, the new additions to the City Council occupy the last space. However, Markey's candidacy resonated with voters. Perhaps it was his work as City Solicitor or fresh face that gave him the strength for a reletively strong showing. Jimmy Ferrera, whose tenure began this year after Angelo Puppolo left for his State Rep job, came in eighth (8347). Ferrera has not been on the council long enough to have record either in the council or in the press. His youth and enthusiasm are pluses, but WMassP&I still declined to endorse him because his loyalties are unknown. If he allies himself with the reform elements of the city in next year's council, he will find support here. Finally, Bruce Stebbins capped the City Council (7372). Another term for Stebbins is definitely a good thing for the city and the council as it seeks level-headed and intelligent decisions and options.

Notable among those who did not make it is Morris Jones whose alleged connections to the Asselin clan make even his 10th spot finish a disturbing proposition. For the love of God, may none of the City Council have to leave their position early lest he return to 36 Court St. Sadly low down on the list was Karen Powell. The dedicated city activist finished with 6031 votes. However, her efforts were not in vain. She generated a great deal of enthusiasm and showed real courage and fortitude in this election. Expect to see her in a future race in 2009, when the city council will be a bit different.

Not surprisingly, Ward Representation succeeded in Springfield. Effective with the 2009 election, the city of Springfield will move to a City Council with 5 At-Large seats and 8 ward seats. This will make breaking onto the political scene easier, but it will lead to back-scratching and logrolling where municipal issues are concerned. It will not lead to a more representative council and while based on this night's results the bottom four candidates, being white would not have won, there are no guarantees that the other 8 ward-based candidates will be significantly diverse.

The system may be even be unconstitutional. In Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris the US Supreme Court found that the city's board of estimate, which gave each borough an equal vote on the board, violated the one person one vote principal. Under the ward system, it is not difficult to extrapolate that the wards where voter turnout is dismal will yield proportionately more power where turnout is high. However, it is worth noting that courts do not look at turnout as a determining factor.

In other news. Susan Dawson beat out incumbent mayor of Agawam Richard Cohen by 44 votes. In Westfield, mayoral candidate and former Air National Guard Cmdr. Michael R. Boulanger beat City Councilor Brent Bean 61-36%. Elsewhere, it all pretty much stayed the same.

In any event, it has been a whirlwind election season for Springfield. Charles Ryan, venerable once and future mayor has seen his time come and go. Perhaps one day, if his efforts (and the Control Board's efforts) are not sabotaged by the corrupt elements of the city, they may raise a statue to him somewhere. Maybe not. Still, WMassP&I's salutes this man for standing up for Springfield and shepherding the city through this period with integrity when everybody else all but gave up.

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