Big Changes For City Council As Year Ends

By Jess Bidgood

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Dec. 20, 2010

BOSTON -- A new member, a new president and an empty seat: Boston City Council is seeing more changes than usual as 2010 comes to a close.

It was big news when the council elected for the first time to expel one of its own at the beginning of this month, voting out embattled 10-year Councilor Chuck Turner. Fewer people noticed that one of those votes came from Matt O'Malley -- who was in his very first day on the job. 

LISTEN

Matt O'Malley on The Callie Crossley Show

"It was a tough thing to do," O'Malley told WGBH's Callie Crossley on Monday. "(In elected office,) I think you need to hold yourself to the highest ethical standards available and he fell short of that."

The 31-year-old was elected to the seat previously held by Councilor John Tobin, who resigned in July.  He represents Jamaica Plain and portions of Mission Hill, Roslindale and West Roxbury.

Another round of special elections will be held in the spring to fill Turner's seat. On Monday morning, longtime community activist Tito Jackson announced via Twitter his intention to run for Turner's seat: 

Turner has threatened litigation to prevent that special election; but has said Jackson would be his first choice to replace him.

Meanwhile, Councilor Mike Ross is preparing to end his two-year term as City Council president at the end of this month. 

LISTEN

Mike Ross on The Emily Rooney Show

During his term, Ross led the city council during its contentious negotiations with the firefighter's union, controversy over a proposal to close several branches of the Boston Public Library and the vote to expel Chuck Turner, which he has said was a difficult issue for him.

In an interview on Monday with WGBH's Emily Rooney, Ross said he's proud of the way the council has digitized its records during his term -- and of how he tried to make the council a more outward-looking body by reaching out to other cities to learn from their experience.

"The whole idea of reaching outside our comfort zone and trying to be more about the citizens of our city, I think it was a good couple of years," Ross said.

Observers expect Ross to be replaced as president by Councilor Stephen Murphy in early January.

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