NEW BEDFORD — The 2022 New Bedford city government was sworn in Monday but it won’t be fully complete for at least a week.
Three city councilors — Ward 2 Councilor Maria Giesta, Ward 3 Councilor Hugh Dunn and Councilor-at-large elect Shane Burgo — were not present for the annual inauguration.
Giesta told The New Bedford Light she has tested positive for COVID-19 and Burgo made a similar announcement on his Facebook page two days ago.
He praised being vaccinated for saving him from a more serious bout of illness.
“I cannot stress enough what a difference this vaccine has made,” he wrote in a text to The New Bedford Light. “I can only imagine how much worse or prolonged my symptoms would have been without it.”
No announcement was made on the council floor about Dunn’s absence, according to Councilor-at-large Ian Abreu, and Dunn could not be reached for comment. Abreu said he was told by the council clerk that Dunn was “sick.”
The city, like much of the country, has been experiencing the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 over the holiday season.
The eight members present voted unanimously to postpone the council president election until the body’s regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 13, Abreu said. The motion, however, was worded so that the election would not take place until all 11 councilors could be present.
Linda Morad was elected “council president pro tempore” at Monday’s meeting and will hold that office until a new council president is elected. Former City Council President Joe Lopes is no longer on the City Council after being ousted by Ward 6 challenger Ryan Pereira in November.
Earlier Monday afternoon, Geista confirmed her position against the election of the council president going forward without the missing councilors.
“I am hoping that tonight’s council vote for president will be postponed,” she wrote in a text to The Light.
Councilor observers say that Councilors Ian Abreu and Brian Gomes have been competing to be council president for much of the past month.
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