Incumbent mayors fall in Framingham, Gloucester, Westfield

DeMaria hangs on in Everett; Nicholson wins in Lynn; DePena declares victory in Lawrence

SEVERAL INCUMBENT MAYORS across Massachusetts – in Framingham, Gloucester, and Westfield – took a drubbing Tuesday night, losing their seats to challengers.  Newcomers also scored victories in open mayoral contests in Lawrence, Lynn, Holyoke, Somerville, and North Adams.

In Framingham, Charlie Sisitsky, a 76-year-old former city councilor and longtime civic leader, defeated Yvonne Spicer, 59, who was elected four years ago as Framingham’s first mayor, when Framingham switched from a town to city government.

Spicer was the first Black woman popularly elected to a mayoral post in Massachusetts. But, as CommonWealth reported, she did not get along well with the City Council and alienated other city leaders. Sisitsky ran on his experience as a municipal manager, including working for two decades as Natick’s public works director. Spicer called Sisitsky to concede less than an hour after the polls closed, though results were not yet available from the City Clerk’s office.

In Westfield, the second run was the charm for retired police captain Michael McCabe, who defeated incumbent Mayor Don Humason two years after Humason narrowly defeated him.

Humason, 54, is a former Republican state senator and state representative. In 2019, he defeated McCabe by just 90 votes. This year, McCabe, 59, returned for a rematch and easily defeated Humason, 4,714 to 3,846.

In Gloucester, Greg Verga, a 53-year-old real estate agent, beat incumbent Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken with 58 percent of the vote, 5,829 to 4,047.

Romeo Theken was elected to the job in 2015 after 14 years on the city council. But her tenure was marred by complaints from city officials. The harbormaster accused her of creating a toxic work environment, while health officials said Theken tried to cut the line to get a COVID vaccine.

Verga spent eight years on the Gloucester School Committee and six on the City Council. He ran on a platform of “reviving a sense of professionalism” at City Hall and being a more transparent and collaborative leader.

In Everett, however, Mayor Carlo DeMaria bucked the trend and narrowly hung onto his seat, winning 51 percent of the vote against attorney Fred Capone, according to unofficial results.

DeMaria was first elected mayor in 2007. On the campaign trail, he touted his record reducing crime and spearheading the city’s capital improvement plan, which included negotiating a host community agreement with the Wynn casino. But his tenure has been controversial. In 2014, the Boston Globe reported that several women accused DeMaria of sexual harassment, claims DeMaria denied. In recent weeks, he became embroiled in lawsuits related to a real estate deal he conducted with the Everett city clerk.

Other incumbents managed to hold on to their seats, In Attleboro, incumbent mayor Paul Heroux cruised to a third-term victory over Todd McGhee by a margin of 4,493-2,351. Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty won reelection with 60 percent of the vote. Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan defeated City Council President Cliff Ponte by a margin of 62-38 percent. And Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove defeated her challenger, Rep. Jim Kelcourse, by a margin of 3,611-2,034.

A number of communities selected new mayors, with several historic “firsts.”

In Lawrence, popular former city councilor and businessman Brian DePena declared victory over Acting Mayor Kendrys Vasquez. DePena had come in second in the preliminary election, but he outdueled Vasquez in the final by a margin of 6,093 to 5,358, according to the Eagle-Tribune.

Holyoke voters selected Joshua Garcia to become the city’s first Latino mayor, after Mayor Alex Morse stepped down after a decade to take another job.

Garcia, the Blandford town administrator, was previously the municipal services manager for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and a property manager for the Holyoke Housing Authority. He spent three years serving on the Holyoke fire commission and sat on the school committee for a term. According to unofficial results, Garcia defeated city councilor Michael Sullivan with 56 percent of the vote. 

Jennifer Macksey, a candidate for mayor of North Adams. (Facebook)

North Adams elected Jennifer Macksey as its first female mayor, after incumbent mayor Tom Bernard did not seek reelection. Macksey is assistant superintendent of operations and finance at the North Berkshire School Union and a former treasurer of North Adams. She defeated Lynette Bond 1,674-1,478. 

In Somerville, unofficial results indicated City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne defeated fellow City Councilor Will Mbah to become the city’s next mayor, replacing Joe Curtatone. Mbah, an immigrant from Cameroon, came in first in the four-person preliminary election but in the two-person final Ballantyne prevailed by a margin of 56-38.

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

In Lynn, voters elected Jared Nicholson their next mayor, replacing Thomas McGee. Nicholson is a member of the school committee, a law professor at Northeastern University, and a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law. He defeated Darren Cyr, a 16-year veteran of the city council and its current president, by a margin of 7,962-4532.

In Newburyport, the race for mayor was extremely tight. Unofficial results indicate school committee member Sean Reardon won, finishing just 22 votes ahead of Charlie Tontar, a member of the city council and an associate professor of economics at Merrimack College.