The leadership of the city council remained in limbo Monday as its members took a pass on electing a new president during their first meeting since the resignation Friday of former Mayor Eddie A. Perez.
Following the chain of ascension outlined in the city charter, former council President Pedro Segarra became the city's 66th mayor Friday almost immediately after Perez resigned a week after his conviction June 18 on five felony corruption charges.
That left it to the eight remaining members of the council to elect a new president and a ninth member of the council. But during a 1 1/2 hour meeting Monday, the council didn't utter a word about the impending shakeup.
All the talk on that subject came before or after the meeting, as council members said neither of the candidates vying for the job, Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch and Deputy Majority Leader James Boucher, have mustered the five votes needed to become president.
Winch, a Perez ally, led the meeting and appeared to work amicably with Boucher, but after the meeting she was clearly perturbed. She said the majority leader traditionally becomes council president when the seat becomes vacant.
"I'm a little bit puzzled why at this time at this place the majority leader doesn't take the position," Winch said. "It's a little bit unnerving."
Boucher acknowledged he wanted the job, saying his hard work and dedication to the city made him the best choice. Barring a special meeting, the council will not choose a new leader until at least July 12, its next scheduled meeting.
"We need more time for discussions on how we're moving forward," Boucher said.
Although several council members said city government would not suffer from a leadership vacuum, South End resident and community activist Hyacinth Yennie said the council should have been prepared to act quickly.
"It bothers me that within this council they cannot come up with one person who can be president," Yennie said. "The city needs leadership."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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