In case you (probably) missed it, the behind-the-scenes mayoral selection (the phone calls, the meetings in the dead of night…erm, sorry, got carried away) just got not so behind the scenes.
Yesterday, it appeared that Councilor John Leahy had the votes needed to secure the mayoral honor. (Sun article here, you don’t have to click through.)
Those supporting Leahy are Councilors Rodney Elliott, Rita Mercier, David Conway, who was most recently elected to the council, Mayor Ed Kennedy and himself.
Councilor Bill Samaras is the other one in the running who was interested in the position as well.
Well, throw a wrench in that and—you guessed it—it’s over the high school. From a press release by current Mayor Kennedy:
Just yesterday, Councilor Leahy assured me that he was 100 percent committed to Downtown Option 3. Both of us clearly understand that my support for any candidate to serve as the next mayor is contingent upon that candidate’s 100 percent commitment to Option 3.
I am puzzled and troubled by Councilor Leahy’s most recent remarks in which he has stated that he “wants to take a look at all of the options” regarding the high school project. We have been considering all of the options for the past eight or nine months. The election results on November 7 made it abundantly clear that Option 3 is the preferred option of the people of Lowell. A supermajority of pro-Downtown candidates were elected with the understanding that Option 3 requires a six votes for eminent domain land-taking and for the loan order to pay for the project.
I think that Councilor Leahy needs to publicly clarify his position on the high school and indicate publicly which option he supports and intends to pursue if he were to be chosen as the next mayor of Lowell.
If you need to catch up further, Option 3 is one of the options for keeping the high school downtown, requiring the taking of an ugly little property next door which houses some medical practices. It is perfectly positioned to be an added property for the high school and would greatly aid in staging the renovation, as well, since you could start with a new building there, move students into it, and then work on an existing building that is largely emptied. But eminent domain as noted takes 6 votes.
So why is Leahy, who was a vote for keeping the school downtown previously, being so coy?
(Addendum: I forgot to add, by way of reminder, that medical practice group has John freaking Cox as their advocate in the matter. Yeah, that John Cox.)