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For six weeks, Anthony D. Galluccio stayed stuck at two votes--his and that of Timothy P. Toomey, Jr.--in the Cambridge City Council's race to elect a mayor.
A Galluccio victory did not seem to be in the cards with Kathleen L. Born only one vote short of the needed five to be elected in the first two rounds of voting. Then, as acting mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 mounted a surprising bid to take the lead with three votes at 11 p.m. Monday night, a Galluccio win seemed even less likely.
But two and a half hours later, after receiving the additional votes of Jim Braude, Henrietta Davis, David P. Maher and Michael A. Sullivan, Galluccio was sworn in as the city's first mayor of the 21st century, putting a dramatic end on a whirlwind night of backroom politics where mayoral votes were exchanged for political ambitions.
First, Decker and Reeves--both unaffiliated progressives--switched their votes from Born to Reeves. In the next vote, Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) councillor Braude defected from CCA member Born to Reeves as well.
But Reeves' Valentine's Day soon turned sour. In the next few hours, as the council hammered out a final draft of a Linear Park down-zoning ordinance in North Cambridge, Galluccio, an Independent, persuaded CCA councillors Braude and Davis and Independents Maher and Sullivan to elect him mayor.
"I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me through thick and thin," Galluccio, a North Cambridge native, said in a 1:30 a.m. acceptance speech. "I will work tirelessly to make the city the best it can be."
Robert Winters, a longtime council observer and publisher of the online Cambridge Civic Journal, said Davis changed her vote for a prominent role in a Galluccio administration--but it was not meant to be.
According to the deal Davis and Galluccio made, Davis agreed to cross party lines and elect Galluccio as mayor in exchange for her own election as vice mayor.
"That was the deal," Winters said.
But things did not go according to plan.
In the last vote for mayor, Decker and Reeves switched back to Born's camp, but Davis and Braude stuck with Galluccio.
According to council rules, Davis and Braude could have switched their votes before City Clerk D. Margaret Drury pounded her gavel, which occurred during the 1998 mayoral vote where Francis H. Duehay '55 emerged victorious. But nobody had a change of heart.
In a press release, Davis said once she committed to Galluccio she was going to stick by it. Winters said councillors will respect the "honorable" nature of her commitment.
In the vice mayor's election, Davis, Braude, Galluccio and Toomey voted for Davis, while Maher, Decker, Reeves and Sullivan voted for Maher and Born voted for herself. Toomey then immediately switched his vote to Maher, making him vice mayor and giving the council a full Independent slate as its leadership for the next two years.
"There were just a lot of miscommunication and just some foul-ups at the end there," Winters said, referring to Born's vote.
In the last three mayoral elections, crossover deals of the kind Galluccio and Davis made Monday night resulted in a bipartisan team as mayor and vice mayor.
Despite the defections and switched allegiances in the elections Monday night, Winters does not think the personal maneuvering will have a big effect on the relationships between council members.
"People aren't going to be pointing fingers at each other for very long," he said, adding that Born is the only one who would have a justifiable reason to be upset.
"In the end, she'll put it aside as well," Winters concluded. "She's got a nice life to fall back on."
Decker and Reeves can not be counted on to be predictable, he said.
"Both Ken Reeves and Marjorie Decker are enigmas...or they're purposefully being contradictory," Winters said.
If Reeves had voted for Born in the first two rounds of voting and not in the last, she would have been elected mayor.
As for Galluccio, Winters said he will do an adequate job as the council and School Committee's chair.
"He was smooth as silk. He was fine," he said, referring to Galluccio's performance at Tuesday's School Committee meeting.
At Monday's meeting, several Cambridge citizens urged the council to get the race over with and get on with its work for the first time.
Until a mayor was elected, council committees dealing with issues ranging from new ordinances to transportation to environment could not be formed.
"Please elect a mayor," Winters said. "Put aside all personal interests, and let's get things going."
Though the council did pass important ordinances such as the Larkin and Linear Park petitions while the mayor's race loomed in the background, only with the creation of the committees can the council get to work.
Vincent L. Dixon, a candidate in last fall's election and a council observer, suggested that the council set up a special election in conjunction with the Massachusetts presidential primary March 7. Under Dixon's plan, the people would have chosen from among the three candidates--Born, Galluccio and Sullivan--that had received votes up until that point, with the second-place finisher being elected vice mayor.
"Please consider this compromise seriously," Dixon said.
And Roy Bercaw, a Cambridge resident, questioned Reeves' right to chair council meetings, saying Drury should serve as acting mayor according to state law.
"All actions taken by the council since Jan. 2 would be subject to challenge," Bercaw said.
Reeves responded by noting the increased responsibilities of his temporary job.
"It pays you nothing, you work three times as hard," he said.
"May God move us so we can get a mayor to do this wondrous work," Reeves added.
By the end of the night, Reeves had his wish, except it was Galluccio, and not him, who was elected mayor.
With Galluccio's election, the so-called "Ken Reeves Show"--in which Reeves frequently interjected in council proceedings to add his own personal anecdotes and to explain to the viewers at home the mind-numbing rules of the council--was finally cancelled.
Reeves should not despair, however. In less than two years, Cambridge's so-called "January sport" will return, and Reeves will probably find himself, at least temporarily, in the mayor's seat once more.
--Imtiyaz Delawala contributed to the reporting of this article.
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