The New Bedford City Council has the power to cut the budget proposed by the mayor. It is a major power and it creates leverage to negotiate when done well.

The two leaders in this COVID-19 budget session are veteran City Councilor Linda Morad and City Councilor Maria Giesta, a relative newcomer to the local legislature. Both had serious experience prior to being elected to office. Councilor Morad had a tremendous career in the world of Boston finance. Councilor Giesta worked in Washington, D.C. as a top staffer to Congressman Barney Frank after she worked for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Giesta is a Democrat. Morad is a Republican. Both have run against Mayor Jon Mitchell for the top city job. Both lost that battle but they are still in the fight for the city they have always known as home.

The worn-out saying "politics makes strange bedfellows" should be updated to "local politics makes logical allies." A fiscal conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat are both working together for the taxpayers they represent. This isn't to say they agreed on every roll call vote taken Monday night, but it was clear that both had done the difficult and occasionally tedious work of going over each line item in the budget and making thoughtful cuts. They also made some cuts that were symbolic but made important points for the future.

At the start of the Monday night meeting, Councilor Morad praised Councilor Giesta for the work she had done. She also slammed an unnamed fellow councilor for adding their name to cuts without doing any work.

Prior to a vote on a cut to the police budget she had offered, she withdrew the cut and publicly stated she had "traded the cut for information we all want to know." Councilor Morad has launched an investigation into a leak of information and she has acknowledged that she is using her leverage with the police department to assist her in her investigation.

Stay tuned.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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