Last week’s election has proven that voting counts, that Everett voters think, that they vote for representatives that they believe will do their bidding.
Everett voters, we believe, were largely persuaded by events that have occurred here during the past two years.
Primary among them, is the public schools overcrowding issue and the controversy concerning Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani, who was placed on administrative leave with pay.
The ongoing very public and contentious battle between the mayor and a great number of residents and parents of school children who wanted the former Pope John High School converted into a middle school to mitigate overcrowding, appears to be one of the causes of the dramatic turnover on the school committee and on the city council as well.
Most councilors were in favor and remain in favor of using Pope John as a school.
Tahiliani’s placement on administrative leave, is another issue believed to be a mover for change noted at the ballot box.
Tahiliani has many supporters in the city and the election results proved this.
Removing her, albeit with pay, did not rest well with voters.
The school Committee meeting held the night before the election didn’t help incumbents either.
The meeting revealed some of the serious divides that make governing here a bit more difficult than it seemed the day before the election.
The election results have proven this.
There is no gloating here.
You win some and you lose some in politics.
The school committee results were a disaster for the mayor who will now be hard pressed to dominate that board as he did before the election.
On the other hand, the new school committee will weigh and measure issues and vote as they see fit as individuals, which is what we would expect of all our elected public officials.
The extraordinary outcome of the election is a reminder that nothing remains the same forever.
The status quo giving majorities to the mayor on both the school committee and the city council has suffered a bit of an earthquake.
This came about with low voter turnout, and a voter turnout of mostly older voters and very few first time voters, or new voters.
That was a message in itself that the old line rejected many of the incumbents who lost, who were aligned with the mayor.
At the same time, the vote proved that unaligned candidates beat incumbents whose tendency was to vote for the mayor.
This was a message that tells us that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction out there among voters throughout the city.
The turnover in this election is unlike that seen here in many, many elections.
It signals a potential change of course for city hall politics and for school committee politics.
The mayor has shown a great deal of ability to overcome just about anything thrown his way.
This election was a curveball he swung at and missed.
However, let’s not underestimate the mayor’s ability to control city politics.
This election was as setback.
The mayor will survive.
Yet he must surely know that the two years in front of him are going to be years of challenge and controversy for him.
When the next election for mayor takes place, there will be a flush of votes coming out perhaps twice the size of more than the number who voted last week.
That’s what a presidential election does to voter turnout.
Two years from now, the old line voters’ numbers will have shrunk and the voter turnout will be comprised of many newer voters and residents who usually don’t get involved.
How the mayor will respond to this is anyones’ guess.
Bottom line, last week’s election rocked the local political scene. We shall soon find out what exactly that means.