By: Tom Duggan – December 3, 2003
(originally published on tommyduggan.com)
LAWRENCE – After two successful years of reforming the City Council presidency and reshaping the decorum at Council meetings, Lawrence City Council President, Marcos Devers says he is taking himself out of the running for the spot in January and stepping aside “to give others an opportunity to serve.”
The City Council chooses a new president every two years. The City Council President presides over the meetings, assigns which Councilors will sit on sub committees, approves the agenda, becomes acting mayor if the current mayor goes on vacation or leaves office prior to the end of his term and has the authority to drive the issues at the Council table.
Devers took over as City Council President two years ago after topping the ticket in a city wide At-Large race and serving for 28 days as acting mayor when former mayor Dowling abandoned the city to take a judgeship.
“I have been Council president for two years and I think others should have the opportunity to serve in that position,” Devers said Monday evening. “It is a very difficult and time consuming job. I have many other projects that I am working on and I need to concentrate on those things that are best for the city.”
Upon becoming Council President in 2002 Devers brought a welcome change to the Council, reversing the leadership style of his predecessor Frank Kivell. Under Kivell, debate on city issues were stifled, Councilors did not have the ability to speak freely, members of the public were denied the right of public participation and Council agenda items that he thought embarrassed Mayor Dowling were removed from the agenda.
Devers, in contrast opened up the Council meetings to unlimited debate and allowed members of the public as well as fellow Councilors the opportunity to speak at length and openly discuss the issues facing the city.
Devers said the controversy surrounding him running for reelection as Council President (namely that the Latino Councilors were supporting him and the non-Latino Councilors were supporting Patrick Blanchette) was “something the city doesn’t need right now. We have to work together and put aside those kinds of things and do the business of the people. We don’t need the kind of division that a vote like that could bring,” he said.
District “A” (Prospect Hill) Councilor, Patrick Blanchette, who currently sits as the Vice-President of the Council is poised to replace Devers as President in January at an organizational meeting directly following a swearing in ceremony of new Councilors elected last month.
Blanchette already has the five required votes to ascend to the presidency.