NEW BEDFORD – New Bedford City Council President has yet to be determined after the council voted Monday to postpone the decision as three members contracted COVID.
Instead, the council president would be elected at an upcoming meeting, when all councilors are present, the body decided on January 3rd.
Eight of the eleven city councilors were officially sworn in during a ceremony at Keith Middle School prior to the vote – but three COVID-positive members stayed home to be quarantined, officials confirmed.
Hugh Dunn, Maria Giesta, and Scott Burgo were unable to attend the meeting tonight.
As coronavirus cases surge across the country, fueled by holiday gatherings amid the highly contagious omicron variant, New Bedford has seen a sharp surge in cases as well.
The city’s average 14-day incidence rate rose from 75 per 100,000 residents in early December to 107 as of December 30, according to the state.
The council voted 8-0 to postpone the election of a president until all council members are present.
It is currently chaired by the President of the Council pro tempore, Linda Morad, who was unanimously elected at the meeting.
She will chair the body until the official president is elected.
Former President of the Council, Joe Lopes, was surprisingly defeated in the November election by challenger Ryan Pereira for his Ward 6 seat.
City council members are now expected to choose between council members Ian Abreu or Brian Gomes for the position.
Gomes is one of the city’s longest serving councilors and has been his seat for decades.
Abreu has now consistently received the highest number of votes among his fellow councilors since his first election in 2015.
The city council president heads the body and acts as deputy mayor in his absence.
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