Races to watch in today’s preliminary elections

In North Adams, 4 women vying to be mayor

TODAY WILL BE a test of Lowell’s new at-large voting system, the result of a lawsuit about minority representation in government. It will also mark a narrowing of the historic field in North Adams, with four women vying to become the city’s first female mayor. Meanwhile, Lawrence, Holyoke, and Newburyport will all take a first step toward selecting their new mayors as 11 communities head to the polls Tuesday for preliminary elections that will narrow the fields to two top candidates for various municipal offices. Here’s a rundown.

Lowell: In 2017, a civil rights group representing Asian-American and Latino voters filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Lowell saying its at-large system of electing candidates for city council and school committee led to a lack of minority representation in government, since voter turnout came heavily from the wealthier, whiter parts of the city. Two years later, Lowell settled the lawsuit by agreeing to scrap the voting system and replace it with a new one. 

Lowell’s city council and school committee members will now be chosen in a hybrid system. On the city council, eight councilors will represent specific wards, and three councilors will be chosen at-large. Four school committee members will represent districts, and two will be chosen at large. 

Tuesday’s preliminary election will be the first test of this new system. The Lowell Sun reported that the fields will be narrowed in districts 2, 3, 4, and 7.  

North Adams: In 127 years as a city, North Adams has always been run by a man. That is about to change. 

Four women – Lynette Ritland Bond, Rachel Branch, Aprilyn Carsno, and Jennifer Macksey – will appear on Tuesday’s ballot, competing for two spots in the November election. One of them will replace current Mayor Thomas Bernard, who is not running for reelection.

Lawrence: In Lawrence, Mayor Kendrys Vasquez was sworn in as mayor in January after Dan Rivera resigned to take a job leading MassDevelopment. Vasquez had been the city council president. 

Now Vasquez is seeking election for a full term. He has competition from four challengers: Brian DePena, William Lantigua, Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, and Doris Rodriguez. 

Holyoke and Newburyport: Two other communities that will be picking new mayors in November will narrow their fields on Tuesday. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse resigned in March to take a job as Provincetown town manager, and seven candidates are vying to replace him. They are Blandford Town Administrator Joshua Garcia; City Councilor Rebecca Lisi; City Councilor Mike Sullivan; School Committee member Devin Sheehan; academic and editor Gloria Caballero Roca; writer and former Morse aide William Glidden; and businessman Christopher Kosinski. 

After 12 years in the job, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday decided not to seek reelection. Three candidates are vying to replace her: School Committee member Sean Reardon, Plum Island resident Warren Russo, and City Councilor Charlie Tontar. 

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.

Everett: Everett has a contentious race for mayor as Mayor Carlo DeMaria seeks a sixth term. GBH reported that DeMaria has sought a reputation as a Tom Menino-like urban fixer. But he is contending with the difficult politics of race.  

One of his challengers, Gerly Adrien, is a Black woman who has complained of a hostile environment from her City Council colleagues since she was elected in 2019, which she attributes to her race. Adrien described a clash she had with DeMaria during a council meeting in an op-ed in the Boston Globe. “He wanted me to disappear, to show viewers that my voice was not significant, and that I did not belong,” Adrien charged. 

City Councilor Fred Capone is also challenging DeMaria and says DeMaria has taken an “imperial” approach to governing, according to GBH.