WOBURN -The aldermen united last night behind the selection of Ward 7's Lindsay Higgins to succeed City Council President Alderman Michael Anderson.
Toward's the tail-end of last night's virtual meeting, which was broadcast live through both Woburn Public Media Center and Internet-based conferencing service Zoom, Anderson announced he was relinquishing the chairman's gavel in order to assure a continuity of leadership as he prepares for a judicial assignment on the state's Family and Probate Court.
The Ward 4 alderman, further explaining he was likely to formally resign from the council in the coming days, then hand-picked his successor in nominating Higgins for the council presidency. No other nominations were declared by fellow councilors, who unanimously and without debate sanctioned Higgins' candidacy.
"I just want to thank my fellow City Council members for their vote of confidence in me. I know I have some pretty big shoes to fill," later commented Higgins, after she was immediately sworn into the leadership role by City Clerk William Campbell. "I hope to serve my colleagues just as well as the residents of Woburn."
During a meeting last week, the state's nine-member Governor's Council unanimously sanctioned Mass. Governor Charles Baker's nomination of Anderson to fill an associate justice vacancy on the state's Family and Probate Court.
With his judgeship being confirmed, Anderson had made clear his resignation from the council was imminent — though the selection of a new president was not listed as an official item on last night's meeting agenda.
According to Anderson, given some of the challenges facing the city with the COVID-19 crisis, he felt it was irresponsible to tender his resignation in the coming days and thereby leave the presidency unfilled.
By instead relinquishing the chairman's gavel immediately, the former City Council president not only ensured a smoother transition, as he also got to play a direct part in the selection of his successor.
"Before we adjourn, I want to make a couple of notes before the next meeting. It's more than likely I'll be stepping down. I'd like to thank everyone on the City Council and prior members that I've sat with. It's been a wonderful and great experience," he said.
"It would inappropriate for there not to be a president in place, so I will step down as president right now. When that occurs, per our charter, a senior member will step in as the president pro tempore," the Ward 4 alderman explained. "I would also like to make a motion to name Alderman Lindsay Higgins as our next president."
With Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately refusing the pro tempore position despite being the council's elder statesman, Ward 5's Darlene Mercer-Bruen, the second most tenured member, took on that temporary role.
Following the elevation of Higgins to the presidency, an elated Mercer-Bruen noted the broad support for the West Side official's nomination.
"It's a unanimous vote. Congratulations Lindsay," said the East Woburn alderman.
As council president, Higgins will earn an extra $2,000 stipend above the $10,000 compensation provided to council members each year. She will also decide upon members' council subcommittee assignments.
Representing the West Side, Higgins was first elected to office back in 2015, when she was chosen by voters to fill the council seat long held by Ward 7 Alderman Raymond Drapeau. A WMHS alumnus, the Russell Street resident is employed as a corporate tax attorney.