COVID Delays New Bedford City Council President Vote
NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford’s city council president has yet to be determined, after the council voted on Monday to delay the decision due to three members being out sick with COVID.
The council president will instead be elected at an upcoming meeting when all city councilors are present, the body decided on Jan. 3.
Eight of the city's 11 councilors were formally sworn in during a ceremony at Keith Middle School before the vote — but three COVID-positive members stayed home to quarantine, officials confirmed.
Hugh Dunn, Maria Giesta, and Shane Burgo were unable to attend tonight's meeting.
As coronavirus cases rise across the country, driven by holiday gatherings amid the highly contagious omicron variant, New Bedford has also seen a sharp uptick in cases.
The city's 14-day average daily incidence rate rose from 75 per 100,000 residents in early December to 107 as of Dec. 30, according to state data.
The council voted 8-0 to delay electing a president until all councilors are present.
It is currently being led by the council's president pro tempore, Linda Morad, who was chosen unanimously at the meeting.
She will lead the body until the official president is chosen.
The council's previous president, Joe Lopes, was defeated by challenger Ryan Pereira for his Ward 6 seat in a surprise upset in the November election.
Now, city council members are expected to choose between at-large councilors Ian Abreu or Brian Gomes for the position.
Gomes is one of the city’s longest-serving councilors, and has been in his at-large seat for decades.
Meanwhile Abreu consistently earns the highest number of votes among his fellow councilors since his first election in 2015.
The city council president leads the body and serves as acting mayor in the mayor's absence from duty.