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The new Groton Town Council forms a circular firing squad

I'm going to try to overlook the most obvious conclusion one might take away from the inability of the freshly sworn-in Groton Town Council this week to choose a mayor among themselves.

After all, if they couldn't find consensus after an incredible eight rounds of voting, there is one obvious deciding factor available: use the final vote counts from the November election that put the nine councilors, eight of them Democrats, into office in the first place.

But the new councilors can't seem to defer, in choosing a mayor, to the wishes of town voters.

The ugly truth in the council's rejection of using vote tallies to choose a mayor is hard to overlook. The two highest vote-getters in November were a biracial woman and a person of color.

Democrats, who have a supermajority on the council, at least need some good excuse why they shouldn't choose as mayor one of the most popular candidates among town voters.

After all, who cares who is the most popular among the new councilors, especially when they can't seem to figure that out.

In trying to overlook what seems on the surface to look a lot like racism, one is left with other unfortunate conclusions about the dysfunctional tribalism of Groton Democrats.

After all, this party's chairman was soundly defeated by Groton voters in a council primary, the same election in which Councilor Portia Bordelon, rejected by party leaders for nomination for reelection, won by a landslide.

As the new Town Council drifted into an embarrassing gridlock this week over a choice for mayor, Bordelon offered her own compromise, eventually voting for fellow Councilor Aundré Bumgardner, the second-highest vote-getter in the November election.

Bordelon, in compromising and not voting for herself, showed some of the spirit that town voters have demonstrably supported in multiple elections.

Some of the ugliest behavior in the council's mayoral choice fiasco came from Councilor Rachael Franco, who made no effort at compromise, voting for herself in all eight rounds.

Later, as the inept new council adjourned without being able to choose a mayor, Franco told a reporter that some councilors need to think of what's best and step down as a contender for mayor.

I would suggest Councilor Franco is right about that. She should be the one to take her own advice, step down and allow one of the top two vote-getters from November, both experienced councilors, win the mayoral vote.

One good thing this week's mayoral standoff on the council seems to demonstrate is that voters have shaken up Democrats' top-down vice grip on power.

The party, which led the town into a disastrous deal for the Mystic Oral School property, choosing an unqualified developer with a troubling criminal past and then squashing discussion and dissent, can no longer even muster a winning vote to choose a new mayor.

The party bosses have to share power on a council that now includes a Republican and Democrats who they tried to marginalize.

So, I suppose we learned this week that Groton voters have more work to do at the polls, more cleaning house and getting rid of leaders who care more about themselves than the wishes of voters.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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