EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 14, 2013

Women make up majority on new City Council

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — The City Council will get a new president, vice president and budget committee chairperson in January in three major shifts of power unfolding at City Hall in the shadow of the unsettled contest for mayor.

It’s still not certain whether William Lantigua or Daniel Rivera will be the next mayor, but one thing is for sure: whichever man wins, he’ll have to reckon with a City Council that for the first time will be dominated by women.

Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez’s return to the council after an absence of four years tilted the balance between the sexes. She’ll join incumbents Oneida Aquino, Eileen Bernal, Estela Reyes and Sandy Almonte, who were re-elected on Nov. 5.

The five could control the nine-member council if they vote as a block, but already they’re going separate ways on the first issue to confront them — choosing a replacement for Council President Moran, who did not run for re-election after serving a year on both the council and in the statehouse.

The scramble to succeed Moran already has begun, although most of the contenders aren’t returning phone calls seeking to confirm their interest.

Only Councilor Roger Twomey, who begins his four term as an at large councilor, has said publicly that he wants to be council president, but several others are campaigning for it.

Twomey said Bernal and Almonte have told him they may seek the presidency.

Reyes said Bernal told her she wants the vice presidency, which has few duties other than chairing the council when the president is absent. Bernal did not respond to phone calls and emails yesterday.

Modesto Maldonado, who was elected to an at-large seat on Nov. 5 after a two-year absence from the council, would not comment on whether he’ll seek the council presidency, but Councilor Estella Reyes said Maldonado asked her to support him for the job.

“There are still issues that are more important that need to be resolved,” is all Maldonado would say yesterday, referring to the upcoming recount in the race for mayor. “Once that’s resolved, hopefully there will be time to talk about other things.”

Besides a new president, the City Council will have a new vice president and a new chairman for its budget committee. Rivera held both posts, but gave up his council seat to run for mayor.

The councilors are scheduled to choose new leadership on Jan. 2, after they are sworn in along with the mayor.