City Fails To Elect Mayor for Sixth Time

After six weeks of trying to elect a mayor, the Cambridge City Council has narrowed the candidates down to Councillors David P. Maher, Kenneth E. Reeves ’72, and Henrietta J. Davis, with Maher leading the pack with four votes over the past three election sessions.

Reeves, the senior member of the Council, has acted as temporary mayor since January 1, a role that includes chairing the Cambridge School Committee.

Though a final election could have taken place at last night’s City Council meeting, the Councillors took no such action, because Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. was absent.

First-term Councillor Leland Cheung made a recommendation yesterday to check the legality of using a runoff election procedure in this year’s mayoral election to speed up the process. The proposal was unanimously passed.

Maher said an "embarrassing situation" would result if a mayor is not elected at the next City Council meeting on Feb. 22.


Although he did not speak in favor of changing the city’s charter to, he recommended "subtle changes to help the Council to come to a conclusion in a fast, swift, and more urgent way."

Currently, the City Council has accepted Maher’s recommendation to meet every Wednesday—in addition to regular Monday meetings—until a mayor is selected, if a conclusion isn’t reached by Feb. 22. A candidate needs five votes to be named mayor.

"Doing it the way we’ve always done it has served us well in the past," Councillor Craig A. Kelley said. "However, I would like to find out whether [the runoff] is a legal option."

Kelley’s sentiment was shared by other Councillors, including former Mayor E. Denise Simmons, who encouraged the Councillors to discuss other options regarding voting procedures in the future.

Local pundit Robert Winters, who teaches at the Harvard Extension School and heads a blog about Cambridge politics, said that he would prefer that a mayor be elected as soon as possible, but that multiple factors are drawing the election into a stalemate.

"I know there are interpersonal issues between them...I don’t know that that’s the primary reason they can’t resolve things," said Winters, who compared following the mayoral race to watching "daytime soaps, one night a week."

Councillor Marjorie C. Decker, who called the process of electing a mayor

"time consuming," said that the Boston Globe was unfair to report that Reeves—the former mayor of Cambridge who currently possesses only two votes—was impeding the progress of the election. Yesterday’s Globe article stated that some say Reeves is "holding up the process by not dropping out of the running."

"If you are that frustrated and interested, initiate a charter commission," Decker said.

In response, Reeves said that there are "too many people who don’t understand the system, and some of them are writing about it."

Decker was a candidate for mayor earlier this year, but withdrew from the race. Since then both she and Simmons have announced that they are running in the special election for the Mass. State Senate Seat from which Anthony D. Galluccio resigned in January.

—Staff writer Rediet T. Abebe can be reached at

—Xi Yu contributed to the reporting of this story.