SPRINGFIELD—Mayor Domenic Sarno and the City Council averted a political crisis Monday by agreeing to sunset what now amounts to suspensions of key parts of the Police Commission ordinance. The change ostensibly arose to ensure Deputy Police Chief Lawrence Akers, who would be the city’s first Black police leader, will have the same powers his four predecessors had.
However, the pair of ordinances, which reallocate most of the Police Commission’s power other than to mete out discipline, prompted sharp pushback.
The allegations of vote-buying occurring right outside Springfield City Hall have dropped a hand grenade into a historic but quiet municipal election. It has set off a wave of condemnation, conspiracies and snickering across Springfield and within its political class.
With his mayoral campaign in mortal danger, Springfield at-large Councilor Justin Hurst held a defiant press conference Thursday morning, vigorously denying his campaign engaged in vote-buying. The allegations, which are reportedly now before federal and state investigators, arose after early-voters swamped Election Commission staff Saturday.