BREAKING: Fenton To Be Next Springfield Council President…
UPDATED 4:51PM: For grammar and to reflect details from Fenton’s release. Please Email editor for prior version of this story.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election among the upheavals will be the selection of the City Council president. Although defeated at-large Councilor Jimmy Ferrera was unlikely to seek another term as president, his departure leaves the spot of presiding officer up for grabs. Ward 2 Councilor Michael A. Fenton has announced that he has the votes to become the next Springfield City Council President. Prior to Fenton’s release, multiple sources had said the next Council President would be Fenton.
“I am humbled by the support of my colleagues and thanks for the trust they have put in me,” Fenton, 26, said in his release. Promising “fairness” above all else in his tenure, he said residents should expect orderly business to be conducted on behalf of residents of Springfield.
Fenton, the current chairman of the Special Committee on Residency was elected in 2009 as the first ward representative from Ward 2 since the 1950’s. He defeated Thomas Sullivan, then a real estate broker and the nephew of the former Springfield mayor William C. Sullivan.
Fenton was sworn in a day before his 23rd birthday making him the youngest councilor in the city’s history and his would-be presidency could have the potential to make history again. Fenton would be the first ward councilor to become president since the reintroduction of ward representation in 2010. Ward 2 consists of Atwater Park, East Sprignfield, Hungry Hill and Liberty Heights.
Fenton, an attorney with the city law firm of Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin, is a 2012 graduate of Western New England University School of Law. Fenton also obtained an MBA from WNEU. He got his bachelors degree at Providence College and attended Cathedral High School in Springfield. Per his release, Fenton is also pursuing his CPA license.
Since joining the Council, Fenton has developed a reputation as one of the more analytical and policy-driven councilors taking lead roles in fights for biomass repeal, residency and other matters. At the same time he is also known for lonely protest votes, often on financial matters indicating to his critics stubbornness or to his fans, deep integrity.
Fenton clashed most visibly with the outgoing Ferrera, most notably in 2012 when the latter was selected Council President himself, assigned Fenton to one committee, the Animal Control oversight committee. Ferrera also consigned Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen, a top Fenton ally, one middling committee assignment. The actions by Ferrera provoked a backlash among neighborhood groups in both Allen and Fenton’s wards, leading Ferrera to make much safer assignments this year.
The only other name in contention for Council President was at-large Councilor Bud Williams, who has held the post before. His name had long wafted among council sources, but he had failed to gain traction among his colleagues. Certainly the loss of Ferrera, a close ally on the Council, was likely the final blow to Williams’ efforts.
In his release, Fenton announced support from nine of his colleagues. With his vote, that brings him to ten vote, three more than is needed to obtain the presidency. Those councilors and councilors-elect were Allen, Thomas Ashe, Justin Hurst, Timothy Rooke, Kateri Walsh, Melvin Edwards, E. Henry Twiggs, Clodo Concepcion and Ken Shea. Fenton said he was unable to confirm support from councilors Williams, Zaida Luna and councilor-elect Orlando Ramos as of the time of his release.
“I look forward to working with old friends and new members o the Council to push forward an aggressive year of legislating,” Fenton continued in his release.
A December caucus will informally select Fenton before the formal opening of the Council in January.