Incumbent mayors in Framingham, Gloucester face uphill battles

Spicer, Romeo Theken take drubbings but make it into finals

INCUMBENT MAYORS took a drubbing Tuesday night in preliminary elections in Framingham and Gloucester but gathered enough votes to make it into the November final.

Yvonne Spicer, the first mayor of Framingham and one of the state’s most prominent Black elected officials, fell far behind long-time selectman and former city councilor Charlie Sisitsky, earning just 1,938 votes to Sisitsky’s 4,401, according to unofficial results from the City Clerk’s office. Framingham Source reported that Sisitsky won 16 of 18 precincts. Business owner Carlos Valadares came in a distant third. Only 17 percent of Framingham voters cast ballots.

In Gloucester, Greg Verga, a former member of the School Committee and City Council, won 50 percent of the vote in the six-person mayor’s race. The incumbent, Sefatia Romeo Theken, who has been mayor since 2015, came in a distant second with 29 percent of the vote. Turnout was small, with nearly 29 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

Sefatia Romeo Theken, the mayor of Gloucester.

Verga outspent Romeo Theken by a margin of 3-1 in the preliminary election but Romeo Theken has more than twice as much cash on hand heading into the final.

In Somerville and Lynn, two communities where incumbent mayors are stepping down, the races were tight. In the race to succeed longtime Mayor Joe Curtatone in Somerville, unofficial results indicated  three candidates garnered between 4,000 and 4,500 votes.

City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne narrowly edged out Cambridge Health Alliance executive Mary Cassesso to win spots on the November ballot. Mbah got 4,498 votes, Ballantyne got 4,162, and Cassesso got 4,083. Lagging in fourth place was independent businessman Billy Tauro, who supported former president Donald Trump and got 2,215 votes.

Turnout was low with just 15,000 voters casting ballots in the mayoral race, or 25 percent of Somerville’s registered voters.

In Lynn, School Committee member Jared Nicholson came in first in the race to succeed Thomas McGee with 3,220 votes, followed by City Council President Darren Cyr with 2,593 votes, according to unofficial results. School Committee member Michael Satterwhite came in third with 2,286 votes, failing to make it into the final.

Nicholson edged out the more conservative Cyr despite being outspent 2-1.

Incumbency ruled in most other mayoral races Tuesday night. In Salem, Mayor Kim Driscoll, seeking her fifth term, easily landed a spot on the November ballot, receiving 60 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Salem City Clerk’s office. Driscoll will face city councilor and former city planner Steve Dibble, who got 37 percent. Painter Frank Perley got just 2 percent and will not make the general election. There were 6,845 ballots cast, just 21.5 percent of registered voters in Salem.

In Haverhill, incumbent Mayor James Fiorentini easily cruised to victory with 56 percent of the vote. City Councilor Colin LePage got 25 percent and will also appear on the November ballot, while police officer Guy Cooper came in third and will not. Fiorentini was first elected in 2005 and is the longest-serving mayor in Haverhill’s history. Turnout was only 11 percent.

In Newton, unofficial results indicated incumbent Ruthanne Fuller came in first with 5,451 votes and will square off in November against Amy Mah Sangiolo, who served for 20 years on the City Council and received 3,964 votes. A.R. Cecchinello Jr. garnered only 593 votes.

In Brockton, unofficial results indicated incumbent Robert Sullivan came in first with 71 percent of the vote; he will face off in November against Councilor at Large Tina Cardoso, who received 22 percent. In Medford, Mayor Breanna Longo-Koehn came in first with 47 percent of the vote and will face off against second-place finisher John Falco, who received 34.5 percent. Turnout was low, with 20,.3 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

In Framingham, Spicer will have a difficult race in November. 

Spicer was the first mayor of Framingham, which only became a city in 2018. Before that, she worked as a school administrator and as vice president for advocacy and educational partnerships at the Museum of Science in Boston. Spicer has had at times an outright hostile relationship with city councilors, and there has been significant turnover in state government during her tenure.

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.

Sisitsky led the Natick Public Works Department for 20 years and also spent two decades as a selectman then city councilor in Framingham, before deciding not to run for reelection in 2019. According to the MetroWest Daily News, Sisitsky, in his campaign, pledged to focus on economic development and to have a less acrimonious relationship with the City Council than Spicer had. 

The incumbent mayor was also out-fundraised by her challenger. Spicer raised $50,000 for her campaign in 2021 and spent nearly $30,000 so far. Sisitsky raised $77,000 this year and spent $33,000. Valadares spent less than $3,000.