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Murphy Re-Elected As Boston City Council President04:20

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Update at 4:30 p.m.: As expected, Stephen Murphy was re-elected Monday to a third term as president of the Boston City Council.

In a speech, he addressed Boston's ongoing financial challenges, especially given uncertainty around federal and state funding.

"We've been looking at difficult economic times and we know those will continue," Murphy said. "We're going to have to be up to that challenge. And guess what? We have been before and we will be again."

Another priority is development of what he called workforce housing — affordable housing for city employees who are required to live in Boston.

Original post:

BOSTON — The Boston City Council votes to elect its president Monday. Incumbent President Stephen Murphy is seeking a third term and appears to have more than the simple majority needed to win re-election. The city's order of succession makes it a job to watch.

Next In Line

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino took office after serving just four months as president of the Boston City Council in 1993. That's when then-Mayor Ray Flynn resigned after President Clinton appointed him the ambassador to the Holy See.

"Whoever the council president is serves as acting mayor in the mayor's absence," explained Charles Yancey, the council's longest-serving member. "If the mayor leaves permanently then the city council president assumes that responsibility as acting mayor until the next election."

Later that year, Menino went on to win a hard-fought mayoral election. In the two decades since, he's maintained a firm grip on the office, even after his recent hospitalization kept him away from City Hall. His aides say he ran the city from his hospital beds.

The only time Menino was not in charge was when he was in Italy on vacation earlier this year, before he became ill. At that time, Murphy was acting mayor.

"I did serve in that capacity for ministerial duties only for the two weeks while the mayor was overseas," Murphy said.

Murphy says it's part of his job to fill in for the mayor on occasion. He says he's not planning to run for the office. Right now, he wants to stay on as city council president and has been lobbying hard, says Yancey.

"This is always a very interesting time on the city council, where my colleagues try to jockey for position, negotiate deals for committee assignments and do a little horse trading," Yancey said. "One of my colleagues feels pretty confident that he has the majority votes to win and maybe he does."

That colleague is Murphy. As of Friday, at least 10 members of the 13-member council had pledged support to his re-election as president.

"I'm comfortable that the commitments I've gotten from members of the council that are my colleagues will stand when we actually cast the vote," Murphy said.

Everyone Is A Candidate

"It's an easier lift for Steve Murphy as the council president," said former Boston city councilor and attorney Michael McCormack. He's not surprised that Murphy appears the clear favorite.

"There are three or four councilors at least who have expressed an interest in running for mayor. The fact that they gave up their run for council president I think is a tribute to Murphy," McCormack said. "He managed to get the seven votes plus three for safety."

But everyone is still a candidate; anyone can win if they get the votes. And McCormack knows that from personal experience.

"I recall a city councilor from Brighton named Michael McCormack who had eight solid votes going in in 1983 and came out with six," McCormack recalled. "Things happen, it's less likely to happen."

As for why none of the councilors appear to be mounting a strong challenge to Murphy this year?

"I think it's more of a byproduct of the inability to put together seven votes," McCormack said.

McCormack says if you're trying to figure out how the final votes came together, watch for committee assignments that come out after the election.

This program aired on January 7, 2013.

Delores Handy Twitter Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.