VOTERS IN 15 municipalities go to the polls on Tuesday to hold preliminary elections. While the marquee race is undoubtedly the Boston mayoral contest, campaigns elsewhere in the state are also drawing interest, including several elections for open mayoral seats.
“I’m optimistic we’ll have a decent turnout tomorrow,” Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said Monday.
Galvin predicted turnout of between 100,000 and 110,000 in Boston, where voters will narrow the field of five major mayoral candidates down to two. Turnout in Boston eight years ago — the last time there was no incumbent running – was slightly higher at 113,000. The number of registered voters in Boston has increased by more than 40,000 since 2013, rising to 432,000 now.
In a city that has never elected a mayor who is not a White male, the election is poised to be a historic one. Polls show City Councilor Michelle Wu in the lead, with Acting Mayor Kim Janey and city councilors Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George vying for the second spot and former city economic development chief John Barros lagging behind.
The most recent federal and state elections boasted record turnout, both because of passion about the presidential race and because the state instituted early voting by mail. There is early voting by mail for this week’s municipal elections as well, but Galvin said participation is on the low side. Around 52,000 people requested mail-in ballots in Boston, but as of this weekend only 22,000 had returned them.
“Things have changed since last year when vote by mail was not only a novelty but coming at time when we were at a slower pace in our lives,” Galvin said. Now, with many people returning to work and school, he said it will be important for candidates to remind their supporters to turn out.
A number of the other preliminary races will narrow competitive fields down to two final candidates in advance of the November election.
Somerville and Lynn both have competitive races to replace mayors who chose not to run for reelection – Joe Curtatone in Somerville and Thomas McGee in Lynn.
In Somerville, the Boston Globe reported that development has emerged as a major issue for the four mayoral candidates who will vie for two spots on the November ballot. They include three progressives: City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne and Cambridge Health Alliance executive Mary Cassesso, as well as independent businessman Billy Tauro, who supported former president Donald Trump. Somerville has been building up its housing and office space, taking advantage of its proximity to business hubs Cambridge and Boston, and the new mayor will have to decide whether to continue that trend.
In Lynn, three candidates are seeking the top two spots: City Council President Darren Cyr and School Committee members Jared Nicholson and Michael Satterwhite. The Lynn Item reported that housing has emerged as a top issue in the race to lead the Gateway City with a large immigrant population.
There are also several municipalities where challengers are trying to unseat incumbents in contentious elections. In Gloucester, incumbent mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken has been the target of complaints by the city’s harbormaster and its former human resource officer, who said Theken created a hostile workplace in city government. Theken is running for reelection, with five candidates vying to replace her: Francisco Sclafani, Greg Verga, John Harvey Jr., Brian Pollard, and Robert Russell.
In Framingham, incumbent Yvonne Spicer is being challenged by long-time selectman and former city councilor Charlie Sisitsky and business owner Carlos Valadares. Spicer was the first mayor to lead Framingham, which became a city in 2018. Sisitsky, who led the Natick Public Works Department for 20 years and spent years as a selectman then city councilor in Framingham, told MetroWest Daily News that he will have a better relationship with the city council than Spicer has had.
In Haverhill, City Councilor Colin LePage and police officer Guy Cooper are challenging incumbent Mayor James Fiorentini, triggering the first preliminary election since 2007, the Eagle-Tribune reported.
In Salem, Mayor Kim Driscoll is being challenged by City Councilor Steve Dibble and Frank Perley III. Driscoll is seeking her fifth term as mayor. The Salem News reported that Dibble is a former city planner who has the support of anti-development residents, while Perley is a painter and first-time candidate.
Other citywide preliminary elections are occurring in Brockton, Medford, Newton, Peabody, and Quincy. There are preliminary elections for city councilors in parts of Worcester, Malden, and Revere.
Municipal elections are spread out throughout September. Next Tuesday, September 21, there will be another 11 preliminary elections.
In Lawrence, acting mayor Kendrys Vasquez is being challenged by Willie Lantigua, Brian de Pena, Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, and Doris Rodriguez. Former Mayor Daniel Rivera left the role in January for a job with MassDevelopment. Vasquez has held the job on an acting basis since then. Lantigua is a former Lawrence mayor and state representative, who was sued over campaign finance violations. According to the Eagle-Tribune, de Pena is a former city councilor and Martinez-Dominguez is the city’s community development director.
In Everett, Mayor Carlo DeMaria is seeking a sixth term, but facing challenges from city councilors Gerly Adrien and Fred Capone. GBH reported that DeMaria is struggling to navigate the politics of race. Adrien, who is Black, has accused colleagues of a hostile response to her election.
Other elections will be held September 21 in Attleboro, Beverly, Chicopee, Fall River, Holyoke, Newburyport, North Adams, Taunton, and some districts of Lowell.
Preliminary elections will be held September 28 in Northampton and one ward of New Bedford.