Power plays, and poise, in the Maplewood council chambers


Solomon Gustavo staff writer

There was no hockey in Maplewood City Hall, no brawls, no threats, hurt feelings or missing teeth.

The Maplewood City Council started the year without a mayor and down a council member. City Hall has seen its fair share of fireworks over the past couple months, dealing with a couple recounts that followed the November election. 

Then the mayor’s seat opened up on the heels of a council member decamping for the Capitol. The situation seemed rife for intrigue.

Instead, the Maplewood council remained poised. Boring, even. 

Throughout the unique process of voting in a new mayor from one of the remaining council members, the council consistently turned its head to the city attorney looking for clarity. 

No matter the confusion, the council stayed calm, even pleasantly  — or awkwardly  — chuckling at the uncertainty along the way. 

The only moment of unbridled emotion came in the best possible way when former council member and newly appointed Mayor Marylee Abrams took a moment to gather herself after taking on the new position. 

“These folks have worked together for a while now,” said Maplewood City Manager Melinda Colman of the city’s council in an interview. “There’s a camaraderie.”

This reporter watched council meetings fully anticipating some moment to go left. I’ve watched my fair share of council proceedings, and, as any news reader knows, tension and uncouth displays of emotion are no surprise. 

And that’s under normal circumstances. With all of that influence up for grabs, it’s impressive to see Maplewood’s top brass keep its collective cool. The citizens chose their representatives well  — or at least they picked respectful people. 

Abrams was sworn in as mayor, leaving another absence on the council, making for two. The council announced those seats will be filled by appointment in February. 

“And then the power play will be over,” said council member Bryan Smith at the meeting. 

 

–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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