The City Council voted 6-3 to keep the mayor as a voting member of the school committee. The council’s vote failed to move forward a home rule petition requesting the Mass. Legislature to authorize the city to place a binding ballot question on the November 7 municipal 2023 election concerning a charter amendment to remove the mayor as a voting member of the School Committee during Monday’s City Council meeting at City Hall.
If it passed, it would make the mayor an ex officio non-voting member, according to City Clerk Sergio Cornelio. Since the vote failed, the mayor remained a voting member, as it is in hundreds of other municipalities throughout the state.
Ward 6 City Councillor Alfred Lattanzi asked who would foot the bill for KP Law to develop the ballot question for the fall’s local election, which if approved by the voters, would remove the mayor as a voting member of the School Committee.
Cornelio said there would not be a payment to KP Law since there’s already a fall city election. Councillor-At-Large Michael Marchese, with his tiresome anti-mayor agenda put forth the motion, once again, wasting taxpayer’s time and money, said it’s not the determining factor since the people would decide, as they did when he ran his own disastrous state rep campaign to unseat Rep. Joe McGonagle last year. Marchese was soundly defeated by McGonagle’s 4,629 votes to Marchese’s failed 1,946 votes.
Addressing the council, Mayor Carlo DeMaria said in approximately 90 percent of cities and towns, the mayor serves as a voting member as well as chairman.
“This should have been done a long, long time ago,” DeMaria said. “The superintendent at the time didn’t want the mayor to vote on the School Committee.”
DeMaria said he doesn’t believe that anyone should have control over School Committee members, especially not the superintendent.
“The mayor is one of the only people responsible for all issues daily in the city,” DeMaria said.
He asked people to imagine being a city councillor but not being able to vote on matters during the meeting.
“It’s demeaning,” DeMaria said. “I heard some comments that my attendance is poor — it’s not poor, as I’m at every meeting, especially the important ones.”
Councillor-At-Large Stephanie Smith said she doesn’t have a personal preference; however, she is against the city council doing home rule petitions.
“I think items that change the charter should go to the people,” Smith said.
DeMaria said the charter was changed in 2014 when he felt that politics were being played.
“I ask in good faith and good governance to refer the item back to the sponsor and move the ball forward,” DeMaria said. “I ask you to not play politics with issues that are important to families.”
Lattanzi, who said he would like to see the mayor vote on the School Committee, said it’s about the seat, not the person-in-charge.
Ward 2 City Councillor Stephanie Martins said she is in favor of seeking public opinion; however, she doesn’t know if it will go anywhere. She added she doesn’t have a preference on whether the mayor can vote on the School Committee. Cornelio reminded her that the home rule petition is just one option; another one would be to collect signatures through a ballot initiative process.
Smith referred the item back to the sponsor, Councillor Marchese. Item 6 directs Cornelio to work with KP Law to develop a ballot question for this fall’s election which, if approved by the voters, would remove the mayor as a voting member of the School Committee.
In usual lock step with Marchese, Smith recommended favorable action on item 12, which was to organize a home rule petition to place a binding ballot question on the fall ballot, despite earlier stating her stance against home rule petitions.
(Editor’s Note: James Mitchell contributed to the article.)