Marc Up: Laredo to be next City Council president

Marc Laredo, at-large councilor from Ward 7, will be Newton’s next City Council president.

After several tie votes, a few other nominations and one councilor eventually flipping his vote in order to stop it all, the Council-elect voted to elect Laredo president on Thursday night, effective when the new Council takes over on Jan. 1.

“As your president, my most important mission will be to work with all of you—all of you—to make sure that this Council runs well,” Laredo said to the caucus in his speech asking for the role.

The evening ran the emotional gamut, starting as a standoff between the two sides of the village center rezoning debate and ending in a show of unity just shy of a group hug.

Try and try again

The first round saw Laredo up against fellow nominee Councilor Rebecca Grossman.

After three tie votes—Council rules require a new set of nominees and a new vote—councilors Tarik Lucas and Bill Humphrey were the next two to face off.

But then Lucas and Humphreys each got 12 votes three times, so they were out as well.

City Councilor Marc Laredo delivers a speech to city councilors-elect asking them to pick him as their president. Photo by Bryan McGonigle

At one point, current President Susan Albright suggested starting with a secret straw poll and a promise from both nominees that whoever lost would vote for the winner and break the tie.

But councilors Lisle Baker and Leonard Gentile noted that open meeting law requires everything to be out in the open.

“Maybe we can just whisper our votes.” Councilor Joshua Krintzman quipped.

It had to end somehow

Then, Laredo and Grossman were nominated a second time, and again they each received 12 votes.

With the threat of a stalemate lasting as long as the zoning debate, Councilor David Kalis stood up and announced he was switching his support from Grossman to Laredo, breaking the tie in Laredo’s favor.

“I respect Councilor Laredo and Councilor Grossman, but I respect the Council more,” Kalis said.

Then one by one, councilors who had supported Grossman switched their votes in a sign of unity, and eventually the caucus unanimously elected Laredo president.

City Councilor Rebecca Grossman delivers a speech asking councilors-elect to make her their next president. Photo by Bryan McGonigle

The president’s gavel packs a lot of power in Newton, with the president appointing committee chairs and with Newton’s City Council overseeing finance, zoning and special permitting, among other critical areas of the city’s government.

“We are going to pick the best person for each job, regardless of how you vote this evening,” Laredo said to the Council-elect.

Laredo was first elected to the City Council in 2011. Before that, he served on the School Committee for several years.

This will be Laredo’s second stint as president. His first was during the Council’s 2018-2019 term.