Barry O'Leary Is
Barry O’ Leary of 410 North
Washington Street, a veteran Democratic alderman of the Second ward,
last night was elected mayor of Butte at a special council meeting.
He succeeds the late Charles A. Hauswirth. He will serve a
complete two-year term until the first Monday in May, 1943.
Ten votes were cast for Mr. O’Leary while Mrs. Leila Hauswirth,
widow of the late mayor and candidate of the republican minority,
received four. Two of the 16 aldermen did not vote.
The meeting was a dramatic one during which Alderman Arthur
Mehrens, acting mayor since the death of Mr. Hauswirth, repeatedly
asserted that “I am the mayor.”
He refused to leave the chair until the council passed a motion
directing the police department to remove him as “an intruder in the
mayor’s chair.” Mr.
Mehrens’ attorney also was escorted out by police, after he had been
warned to keep his place.
Mayor O’Leary’s right to the office was further disputed by
Alderman Mehrens who at an early hour this morning issued the following
“I am going to continue to serve as mayor until the State
Supreme Court decides this matter. I think that is the Democratic way. I
have been advised that these are my rights and I feel I must stick by
them. If this were not the
case I would support Mr. O’Leary.”
Mayor O’Leary, after receiving the oath of office and being
seated, thanked the councilmen “and the people of Butte for their
confidence and the honor they have conferred upon me,” promising at
the same time to do everything possible, with the co-operation of the
council, to make his administration a successful one.
He had intended to make some appointments last night but the
order of business for the special meeting did not include provision for
these. These appointments
probably will be announced at a regular meeting of the council tomorrow
Alderman Phil Doherty, Democrat, of the sixth ward, was elected
president of the council over Thomas R. Morgan, Republican, Seventh
ward, by a vote of 15 to one. Mr. Morgan was unanimously elected vice
president of the council.
Motions were adopted to make the election of Mr. O’Leary as
mayor and Mr. Doherty as president unanimous.
Long before the scheduled starting time of the meeting the
gallery was completely packed and spectators jammed the corridors to the
street. Six policemen were
on duty to keep order. A
public address system carried proceedings of the meeting to those
standing in the hall. Outbursts
from the crowd were frequent at the start of the meeting but a threat to
have police silence over-enthusiastic spectators brought quiet.
There were many cries of “Down in front!”
It was at 7:46 o’clock that Alderman Mehrens, still presiding
as president of the old council and acting mayor, rapped the gavel to
bring the meeting to order. He
was seated on the platform in a chair next to one draped in black in
respect to the memory of the late Mayor Hauswirth.
Mehrens Claims Office
Alderman John Lindquist of the Eighth ward made a motion that the
council elect a temporary chairman. This was immediately ruled out of
order by Mr. Mehrens on the grounds that “no vacancy exists and I am
the mayor according to advice of legal counsel.”
Lindquist appealed from the ruling of the chair but Mr. Mehrens
refused to recognized the appeal although City Attorney Floyd Fluent
pointed out that the council has the right to decide upon an appeal.
There followed several minutes of more or less bitter debate as
to the motion and the correct procedure for the meeting to follow.
Aldermen Take Oath
Finally, calm being restored, City Clerk Beryl Wilson
administered the oath of office to the 16 alderman, 12 Democrats and
four Republicans. In the
oath they swore to defend the Consitution, state laws and city
ordinances, stated that they secured their election properly and
promised that they would not use their offices to obtain money
Alderman Lindquist then put his motion again for the election of
a temporary chairman and Alderman Mehrens refused to submit it for a
vote. Under questioning
Mehrens admitted that he felt he was mayor and that he had been advised
to stay in the chair.
Mr. O’Leary reminded Mr. Mehrens that the 12 Democrats had
agreed to support the candidate selected at their caucus Sunday and Mr.
Lindquist asserted that Mehrens “took the oath of Office as alderman
and not of mayor.”
Attorney Taken Out
Referring to the advice he had received, Mr. Mehrens declaired
that “you can ask 10 different attorneys about this and get 10
difference opinions. I have
been told I am mayor. I
would be a chump if I didn’t stand for my rights and occupy this
chair. At this 11th
hour I have decided that I am the mayor.”
It was at this point that Attorney Phil O’Connell stepped onto
the platform to whisper to Mr. Mehrens.
Alderman John T. (Sherrig) Sullivan called for his removal and
Assistant Chief of Police Jack Duggan entered the railed enclosure.
O’Donnell, smiling, was escorted outside the railing by Mr. Duggan.
Mehrens several times asked for permission for Mr. O’Donnell to
speak to explain the opinion he had given.
This request was not granted. Some members of the council
expressed the hope that the matter would not result in any litigation.
After City Attorney Fluent made an appeal “for the good of the
people” to stop “this jockeying,” Mr. Mehrens put the motion on
his “out of order” ruling in regard to the motion to elect a
temporary chairman. His
decision was voted down unanimously and the motion to elect a temporary
chairman was carried unanimously.
Then, on motion of Alderman Lindquist, Mr. Mehrens was elected
The election of council officers followed.
Alderman Lindquist nominated Alderman Morgan and it was seconded
by Alderman E. J. Lowney, Republican, Seventh ward.
Alderman Emmett Malone, Democrat Third ward, nominated Alderman
Doherty and it was seconded by Alderman Pete Sodja, Democrat, Fifth
After Doherty’s election as president Alderman Sullivan
nominated Alderman Morgan for vice president. It was seconded by
Vote to Remove Mehrens
Alderman Lindquist then called for Alderman Doherty to take his
place as presiding officer, succeeding Alderman Mehrens.
Mehrens again contended that he was the mayor and that “you
must remove me by law—you wouldn’t use force to remove me.”
Lindquist made a motion to have police remove Mehrens and it was
seconded by Doherty. Doherty, from his seat as alderman in the Sixth
Ward then put the motion to vote although Mehrens still occupied the
mayor’s chair. The motion
passed 15 to 1. Mehrens voting against it.
Assistant Chief Fuggan escorted Mehrens to his chair as a Third
ward alderman. Mehrens went willingly but asked that the minutes show
that he was removed “by force.”
The meeting proceeded more smoothly after Alderman Doherty took
over the chair and called for nominations for mayor.
Lindquist nominated Mrs. Hauswirth and Alderman Fred Scubert,
Republican, Eighth ward, seconded it.
Alderman Sullivan nominated Mr. O’Leary, and it was seconded by
Alderman John O’Neill, Democrat, Second ward.
On roll call the vote was as follows:
For O’Leary—Aldermen Sullivan, Dewey McGeehan, O’Neill,
Malone, Fred Chrisly, Alex McDonald, Sodja, John J. Haggerty, Doherty
and Frank Moran.
For Mrs. Hauswirth—Aldermen Lowney, Morgan, Lindquist and
Aldelrman Mehrens did not vote explaining the he believed a
vacancy did not exist. Mr.
O’Leary voted “present.” These
two registered the same votes on the motion to make the election
broke into applause as Mr. O’Leary was escorted to the clerk’s stand
by Chief of Police W. H. Breen. Miss
Wilson administered to him the oath of office—the same oath as that
taken by the aldermen. Miss
Wilson was the first to congratulate the new mayor after he had received
Mr. O’Leary’s resignation as alderman of the Second ward was
then submitted and accepted and council President Doherty handed over
the gavel to Mayor O’Leary.
Mayor O’Leary’s talk was brief.
“Gentlemen of the city council and ladies and gentlemen of
Butte, I want to thank each and every one of you for the confidence you
have shown in me and the honor you have bestowed upon me,” he said.
“I assure you that I will do everything in my power to make
this the best administration that Butte has ever had.
I promise aid for the taxpayers and ask for your co-operation. I
promise that politics will be forgotten and I hope that with all of us
pulling together we can do great things for this great city of Butte.”
Mayor O’Leary’s talk was followed by pledges of co-operation
from all factions in the council. Aldermen McDonald, Malone, Sullivan
and McGeehan explained that Cliff Crowley, defeated Democratic candidate
for mayor in the recent election, had been their choice in the caucus
Sunday but that they would support the man chosen by the majority.
Mayor O’Leary is well known to Butte people, having made his
home here for the past 43 years. Prior to that he resided in California.
He has been employed at the St. Lawrence mine for 39 years and
for the past 32 has been engineer there.
He is a member of the Butte Engineers’ union No. 83.
He was first elected to the council in 1921 and has served a
total of 16 years as alderman. He was named for his ninth term at the
In the council he has served on several committees, both as
chairman and member, including such important ones as the judiciary,
ways and means, parks and playgrounds,
street and alley, finance, legislative and others.
He has a reputation for his extensive knowledge of parliamentary
procedure and he is well acquainted with city affairs.
Mr. O’Leary is married and has five children, four sons and a
daughter. His married sons
are Tim and John of Butte and Mike of Anaconda, the latter being coach
of the Anaconda high school athletic teams.
Another son, Robert, is a pupil at St. Patrick’s school.
His daughter, Mary, is a school teacher at Gregson.
A nephew, Gerald Coleman, is a student at Christian Brothers high
Last night’s meeting was the organization session for the new
city council. The old
council dissolved at noon yesterday and the new governing body took over
last night. New aldermen
selected are Dewey McGeehan who succeeds Joe Duffy in the First ward,
John O’Neill who succeeds Pat A. Sullivan in the Second ward and John
J. Haggerty who succeeds Fred McFadden in the Fifth ward.
All are Democrats.
Alhough a successor to Mr. O’Leary’s place in the Second ward
will not be chosen until a later date, it was indicated that among the
nominees will be Former Alderman Pat Sullivan.
The late Mr. Hauswirth, had he lived, would have been seated last
night for his fourth consecutive term.
He was elected over Mr. Crowley on April 7 and died suddenly of a
heart attack four days later on April 11.
Mr. Mehrens who was president of the old council took over as
acting maor to complete Mr. Hauswirth’s unexpired third term.
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