Recent events on the Lowell School Committee have drawn attention to the method used to fill a vacancy that occurs on the School Committee (which is the same for the City Council, as well). Since the city’s adoption of “plurality voting” in 1959 – that’s the system in which all councilors and school committee members are elected at large, citywide – a vacancy is filled by the next qualified candidate in the order of finish in the last city election. So if it’s a vacancy on the Council, the tenth place finisher takes the seat for the balance of that term; if the vacancy is on the School Committee, then the seventh place finisher takes the seat. (This assumes that the next person is “qualified” in the legal sense of that term).
The method of filling a vacancy was different under proportional representation but that will be a topic for a future blog post. And the method of filling a vacancy for a district city council will be different, but since that system doesn’t go into effect until the new council takes office in January 2022, the specifics of that method of filling a vacancy can wait for another day as well.
For now, here are the instances of vacancies occurring on the Council and on the School Committee since January 1960. (I suspect I’ve missed a few so please share your recollections in the comments section).
January 1963 – John Janas resigned his council seat after being elected state representative. Tenth place finisher Bart Callery replaced him on the council.
October 2, 1980, city councilor Samuel Pollard resigned after suffering a stroke. He was replaced by tenth place finisher George Anthes.
January 1983, Robert Maguire resigned from the city council to become the administrator of the Lowell Regional Transit Authority. Tenth place finisher Thomas Casey replaced him on the council.
July 8, 1983, George Anthes resigned to become an assistant district attorney under Scott Harshbarger. This allowed eleventh-place finisher, Larry Martin, to join the council (since tenth place finisher Tom Casey had already joined the council to replace Bob Maguire).
October 30, 1987, Raymond Rourke resigned from the council. Tenth place finisher Edward Kennedy replaced Rourke on the council.
May 1989, Brian Martin resigned from the council after being appointed assistant city manager. Tenth place finisher Kathy Kelley replaced him on the council.
June 1993, Robert Kennedy resigned from the council when he became administrator of the Lowell Regional Transit Authority. He was replaced on the council by tenth place finisher Raymond Rourke.
September 7, 1993, Ray Rourke resigned from the council due to poor health. He was replaced on the council by eleventh place finisher Charles Caragianes (Rourke had finished tenth and had joined the council mid-term).
November 16, 1997, Matt Donahue resigned from the city council so he could represent a business with a matter before the city. Donahue was replaced by tenth place finisher Bernie Lemoine.
March 9, 1999 – Daniel Leahy resigned from the city council when he was appointed to be assistant clerk at the Charlestown District Court. He was replaced on the council by tenth place finisher Larry Martin.
August 2, 2005, Rithy Uong resigned from the city council. He was replaced by tenth place finisher Kevin Broderick.
July 20, 2007, George Ramirez resigned from the council for a position in state government. He was replaced by tenth place finisher Joseph Mendonca.
August 28, 2012, Kevin Broderick resigned from the City Council. He was replaced by eleventh place finisher John Leahy (tenth place finisher Armand Mercier passed away in January).
June 1968, school committee member Brendan Farrington died of a heart attack. He was replaced on the committee by seventh place finisher George Kouloheras.
January 24, 1973, William Collins resigned from the school committee citing a busy work schedule. He was replaced by seventh place finisher, Paul Robinson.
August 15, 1973. School Committee member G. David Flanagan resigned from the committee effective immediately. He was replaced by eighth-place finisher George Kouloheras (the seventh place finisher had already joined the committee).
November 6, 1982, Clement McDonough died at age 70 of a heart attack. He was replaced on the Lowell school committee by seventh place finisher George Kouloheras.
July 31, 1985, John Reid resigned from the school committee after being hired by Lowell’s Department of Planning and Development. Seventh place finisher George Kouloheras replaced Reid on the committee.
During the 1990-91 term, Kathleen Janas resigned from the school committee when she married and moved to Boston. She was replaced on the committee by seventh place finisher Kathryn Stoklosa.
January 1993, Raymond Riddick resigned from the school committee when he relocated to California for work. He was replaced by seventh place finisher Kenneth Powers.
March 21, 1999, Kathryn Stoklosa died. She was replaced on the committee by seventh place finisher Joseph Mendonca.