Massachusetts Mayoral Races – Highlights from State House News Service

Mayoral Races Highlight Fall Election Landscape

By Alison Kuznitz and Sam Drysdale
State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, SEPT. 7, 2023…..Preliminary elections in 30 cities and towns this month and October, followed by Nov. 7 elections in nearly 60 municipalities, could reshape local politics in Massachusetts, particularly in crowded mayoral contests.

Nearly three dozen mayors are up for reelection this fall, according to a list from the Massachusetts Municipal Association. But of those, at least five are not looking to serve another term in office.

Mayors are facing challengers in cities including Springfield, Brockton, Fall River and Gloucester, while open fields have attracted a swath of candidates in Agawam, Haverhill, Marlborough, Melrose, and Pittsfield.

There’s also a special election to replace Anne Gobi, who resigned to become the state’s director of rural affairs, in the Worcester and Hampshire Senate district. Voters in Gardner and parts of Worcester may turn out in greater numbers for local elections since those contests overlap with the Senate race.

The primary for the open Senate seat is slated for Oct. 10, with two Republicans looking to succeed the Spencer Democrat: Republicans Rep. Peter Durant and Bruce Chester, an Iraq War veteran. Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, a Gardner Democrat, is also running.

A trio of local elections were held in Lynn, Woburn and Worcester on Tuesday.

There wasn’t a preliminary for Worcester mayor, though in November longtime incumbent Mayor Joe Petty is poised to defend his post against Councilor-at-Large Khrystian King, chair of the city’s Human Rights Commission Guillermo Creamer Jr., and perennial candidate William Coleman.

Under the city’s charter, any candidate for at-large councilor is automatically included in the mayor’s race until they opt out. The deadline to pull out of the Worcester mayoral race is Sept. 12, after which the field for the executive job may narrow.

Preliminary elections for four city council seats and a spot on the school committee were on the ballot in Worcester Tuesday. The city council races were narrowed down, and voters in the southernmost part of the city will have their choice between two candidates on the school committee to directly represent them for the first time.

The majority of school committee candidates are running for specific district seats in Worcester for the first time this year, instead of in at-large positions, after a coalition of groups including the local NAACP chapter sued the city, alleging the previous system was discriminatory, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. After Tuesday’s election, candidates Nelly Medina and Kathleen Roy will advance to the November election to represent education interests in the newly-created District E.

In a closely watched race, incumbent Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin faced Omar Mohuddin — who was the 2022 class president of Woburn Memorial High School, his campaign website says — and City Council President Michael Concannon, a retired State Police major and former undersecretary of public safety for law enforcement under former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Mohuddin, a 19-year-old Northeastern University student, didn’t get enough support from voters in his first run for office, and Concannon is looking to knock off Galvin in the November general election. Concannon received 2,535 votes in the preliminary election, Galvin 1,759 and Mohuddin 993, according to the Woburn clerk’s office.

Galvin had about $35,550 in cash on hand at the end of July, compared to Concannon at $28,000 and Mohuddin at $2,000, according to campaign finance reports.

There are preliminary elections scheduled for next Tuesday in Peabody, Springfield and Waltham, as well as in certain districts in Boston, Haverhill and Newton, according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s website.

Incumbent Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt is seeking his seventh term against salon owner Rochelle Agneta and former radio host Robb Stevens. Bettencourt hasn’t faced a challenger since 2011, according to The Salem News.

Bettencourt had more than $80,000 in cash on hand at the end of August, while Agneta had just over $760 and Stevens had nothing in his account, according to campaign finance reports.

In the state’s third largest city, incumbent Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who is the city’s longest serving mayor, faces four challengers: Rep. Orlando Ramos, City Council President Jesse Lederman, City Councilor Justin Hurst, and psychotherapist David Ciampi.

Ramos joined the House in 2020 during the early months of the pandemic, and is in his second term as a state representative.

In Haverhill, Mayor James Fiorentini — the city’s longest-serving mayor — is not seeking reelection. With the executive seat open for the first time in 20 years, five candidates have thrown their hat in the ring.

Another round of preliminary elections on Sept. 19 are scheduled in Amesbury, Brockton, Everett, Fall River, Gloucester, Lawrence, Melrose, Newburyport, Pittsfield, Revere and Westfield, plus certain districts in Framingham and Salem, according to Galvin’s website.

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan, who was elected in 2019, has four opponents, including Hamilton Rodrigues, who was temporarily removed from the city’s voting rolls when officials challenged his residency, NBC Boston reported last month. Rodrigues, who filled out a Registry of Motor Vehicles form with a Canton address, has since re-registered to vote in Brockton, a city election official told the News Service Tuesday.

Incumbent Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan, who was elected in 2019, faces Sam Sutter, former mayor and Bristol County district attorney, and Michael Vandal, a former mayoral candidate.

Coogan posted about $64,375 in cash on hand at the end of July, with Sutter trailing at $9,750 and Vandal showing no funds in his account.

It’s an open mayoral race in Pittsfield, where Mayor Linda Tyer is not seeking a third term. City Council President Peter Marchetti, At-Large Councilor Karen Kalinowsky and former council vice president John Krol are running to replace her.

In Revere, Acting Mayor Patrick Keefe — who took the helm in April following Brian Arrigo’s departure to serve as commissioner of the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation — is looking to retain the mayoral post. His opponents are Councillors At-Large Steven Morabito and Gerry Visconti, and former mayor Daniel Rizzo.

Voters in Beverly and Fitchburg will head to the polls for preliminary elections on Sept. 26, as well as voters in some Chelsea and Holyoke districts.

Preliminary elections in Gardner and New Bedford are on Oct. 3, followed by Agawam and Marlborough on Oct. 10, according to Galvin’s office.

In Gardner, incumbent Mayor Michael Nicholson has two challengers in Martin Gray and Kimberly Blake.

Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant, the city’s longest serving mayor, is retiring after six consecutive terms. Jockeying to replace him are At-Large City Councilor Samantha Perlman, City Councilor J. Christian Dumais, lifelong resident Michael Baker, police detective Patrick Hogan and former city councilor Paul Ferro.

Fewer people typically vote in municipal elections than in statewide and presidential contests, and Secretary of State William Galvin said in 2019 — the last comparable election year — that a turnout rate of 30 percent to 40 percent in any community would be “exceptionally high.”

But, Galvin said at the time, it’s the local races that affect key outcomes in the areas of public safety, education, transportation, zoning and more.


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