Move on to fix interim mayor term ‘glitch’

Apr 11, 2019 by

Published April 12, 2019

MELROSE — The aldermen are being asked to help fix a glitch in the city charter which effectively would mean the current administration of Mayor Gail Infurna would cease to exist the day after the November 5 election.

And that could prove problematic if documents and other materials have to be signed by a chief municipal executive who may not be around to do so.

So what City Solicitor Robert Van Campen is asking the board to do is petition the state Legislature to allow it to make certain changes to the charter which would lengthen the term of an aldermanic president-turned-mayor by about a month.

“This would make for a much more efficient transition,” Van Campen said Wednesday. Under the current language of the charter, “the Infurna administration just stops breathing” the day after a new mayor is selected.

Infurna, he said, had nothing to do with the charter amendment request. She was chosen as president of the Board of Aldermen — after initially not wanting the position — a couple of weeks after Mayor Rob Dolan announced he was leaving to be the top municipal professional in Lynnfield. The person who is president of the Board of Aldermen when a sitting mayor steps down in the third or fourth year of a term automatically becomes mayor.

Infurna has said she will not seek election when her term expires.

In “Section 3-10: Vacancy in Office of Mayor,” it now states that a person chosen (like Infurna was) “shall serve until the time of the next regular election at which time the person elected to fill the office for the ensuing term of office shall serve, in addition, for the balance of the then-unexpired term.”

Van Campen said the next mayor could be someone who won’t be able to leave their current job without giving proper notice, which potentially could cause problems with how the city runs. Also, there would be no way from the Infurna administration to transition into the one of the next mayor.

Traditionally, a mayor voted into office in November doesn’t assume control until the beginning of the following January. Van Campen would like to see this be the case with those aldermanic presidents turned interim mayors as well.

“This is a ‘good government’ measure to fix a glitch,” Van Campen explained.

The aldermen’s Appropriations Committee picked up the debate Thursday night, after the Weekly News’ deadline.

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