The City of Cambridge this week will begin the process of choosing a new mayor to finish the remaining term of the late Mayor Leonard J. Russell, who died one week ago after a two-year bout with cancer.
But under the City's antiquated system of proportional representation, that might not be as easy as it sounds.
Before the City Council can elect a new mayor from its membership, the seat that Russell held for 10 years must be filled. To do that, local election officials must recalculate results from the last municipal election held in 1983.
Working under the city's Hare system of proportional voting--which was designed by a 19th-century English lawyer to reflect the views of minority groups--municipal authorities will take only the 2899 ballots which were cast for Russell and determine the next-best finisher.
Until a successor is determined, Vice Mayor Francis H. Duehay '55 will assume Russell's mayoral duties and will sit on the Cambridge School Committee.
Sixteen candidates ran for City Council almost two years ago, but only nine were seated. Once-defeated candidates like Richard P. Branson, Francis J. Budryk, John W. Downing, Jr., Bill Durette, Jr., and David A. Wylie are now the top contenders for the the last spot on the council.