Ward 5 Shocker: O’Donovan Stepping Down


Courtney in Magoun SquareWard 5 alderman Sean O’Donovan will step down from the Board of Aldermen this evening, nominating Courtney O’Keefe to take his place for the remainder of his term.

Members of the board were told about the decision last night, according to a number of sources familiar with the board. The information was made public in an agenda item on the City’s website today.

The move would represent a massive shakeup in the board and in the politically charged ward. O’Donovan faced a challenge this coming election season from the ward’s school committee representative, Mark Niedergang.
O’Donovan has served as Ward 5’s representative since 2000, and had previously served as the ward’s school committee member since 1995. He is the successor in the ward’s seat of a long line of noteworthy aldermen, including U.S. representative Michael Capuano, DPW commissioner Stan Koty, and Somerville Housing Authority director Joe Macaluso.

He’s also one of Mayor Joseph Curtatone’s closest supporters. Curtatone has campaigned on behalf of O’Donovan in multiple election cycles, and O’Donovan was influential in Curtatone’s election to mayor in 2003.

Because there is less than a year remaining in his term, O’Donovan was tasked with nominating a successor who must receive the Board’s support in order to take his seat, which he has done with long-time supporter Courtney O’Keefe, who runs Ward5Online.com. Though outgoing aldermen usually suggest the appointment of that ward’s school committee member to the vacant seat, O’Donovan would have been in something of an awkward position if he had nominated Niedergang, who has been critical of O’Donovan in the early parts of his campaign.

It also remains to be seen if anybody else will join the Ward 5 race once O’Donovan steps down.

O’Donovan is the second alderman to resign in the past few months, with Ward 1’s Bill Roche stepping down in December. He was replaced with then-Ward 1 School Committee representative Maureen Bastardi.

O’Donovan did not respond to phone calls this afternoon.