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At least 3 vying to become next Boston City Council president

From left: Matt O’Malley, Michelle Wu, and Mark Ciommo
From left: Matt O’Malley, Michelle Wu, and Mark CiommoGlobe staff photos/file

At least three candidates are vying to become the next president of the Boston City Council, with jockeying intensifying this week after an election that ousted the two longest-serving councilors.

Declared candidates for the presidency are City Councilors Mark Ciommo of Brighton, Matt O'Malley of Jamaica Plain, and Michelle Wu of Roslindale. The council is expected to vote on a new president on Jan. 4, after newly elected councilors are sworn in. Councilors vying for the position typically line up well ahead of time the seven votes they need to secure a majority of the 13-member body.

"I definitely am looking at it," said Ciommo, who was elected unopposed Tuesday for his fifth term. "My years as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee have demonstrated my ability to lead the body through difficult times."


O'Malley said that as council president, he would hold some council meetings in neighborhoods. He vowed to rework the committee structure and make other changes.

"I can offer thoughtful, deliberative, progressive-minded leadership for the body," said O'Malley, who has served on the council since 2010. "I can help bring the council together and partner with the mayor and the people of Boston to make this city an even better place to live, work, and raise a family."

Wu this week won her second term as an at-large councilor representing the entire city. In an interview, she said she has already made the council more transparent by disseminating summaries of weekly meetings, pushing to improve webcasts of council meetings, and working with the city clerk to post roll call votes online. She said she wants to make "the council a stronger voice for residents."

"The next council president needs to communicate the important work the council is doing each week," Wu said. "My goal is to keep pushing transparency, accessibility, and accountability for the council."


None of the councilors would say how many votes they had secured from their colleagues. The council's current leader, Bill Linehan, steps down as president in January as his two-year term ends.

The presidency is largely ceremonial. It does not include strict control over the council's legislative agenda the way the speaker rules the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The council presidency does come with some additional power, a larger budget, and duties that include serving as mayor if the job becomes vacant or if the mayor is unable to serve.

The council's two new members appear destined to figure prominently in the choice of a president. Lawyer Andrea Joy Campbell defeated longtime Councilor Charles C. Yancey to win the District 4 seat, which represents swaths of Mattapan and Dorchester and slices of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. High school teacher Annissa Essaibi George captured one of the four at-large seats representing the entire city.

O'Malley and Ciommo were spotted Tuesday night at victory parties for Campbell and George.

Campbell did not respond to phone messages seeking comment. George said she wanted someone to lead the body who would set an aggressive and productive agenda for the term ahead.

"I'm going to support someone who is going to support my objectives," George said. "Those objectives include working on improving our schools and in particular giving me the ability to work with the homeless family population."

Two years ago, Linehan secured the council presidency with the help of two newcomers. The Boston Globe reported in December 2013 that O'Malley had lined up six votes. Wu was newly elected, and O'Malley was trying to persuade her to be his seventh vote.


O'Malley's prospects were dashed when another newly elected councilor, Timothy P. McCarthy of Hyde Park, switched his vote. The Globe reported that McCarthy promised to support O'Malley, but then backed Linehan. Wu also threw her support to Linehan.

The race for the council presidency can change quickly.

"It's fluid," Ciommo said. "It could come together quickly, or it could go longer, especially with new colleagues."

Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.