House panel will try to decide who won 2 rep races

Margin of victory in one campaign was one vote, seven in another


A PANEL OF LAWMAKERS will convene two public hearings on Friday to examine a pair of House races decided by extremely narrow, but certified, recounts, a move that will keep winners from being seated until at least the end of the week.

The three representatives on the panel — Democrat Michael Day of Stoneham, Democrat Daniel Ryan of Charlestown and House Minority Leader Brad Jones of North Reading — announced in a joint statement on Monday they would invite candidates in both contests and their attorneys to discuss the elections.

“The Special Committee of the House to Examine the Returns of Votes for Certain Representative Districts today announced that it will hold hearings on the contested races in the First Middlesex and Second Essex Representative Districts,” the trio said in a joint statement. “The Special Committee will invite the respective candidates and their legal counsel to appear to offer testimony and to answer questions from the members of the Special Committee on Friday, January 13, 2023.”

A Day aide said the panel would focus at 10 a.m. on the Second Essex seat,  which Democrat Kristin Kassner won by one vote over five-term Republican Rep. Lenny Mirra,  followed at 2 p.m. by the First Middlesex seat, which Democrat Margaret Scarsdale won by seven votes over Republican challenger Andrew Shepherd.

The Governor’s Council certified the results in both races after district-wide recounts. In both cases, the losing Republican candidates filed legal challenges. House Speaker Ron Mariano announced the night before the start of the 2023-2024 term that the House would delay the swearing in of Kassner and Scarsdale until the special committee completes an examination of the contests.

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Chris Lisinski

Reporter, State House News Service
The House, where Democrats hold a supermajority, voted last week to keep Mirra in his seat until the three-member panel makes a final decision about the contest.

After a meeting on Monday with Gov. Maura Healey and Senate President Karen Spilka, Mariano said he had concerns about delaying the election outcome, but he weighed that against the fact that the losing candidates had legal options they were unable to exhaust. He said he would be shocked if the panel called for a special election to resolve the situation, but awaits the recommendation of the special committee.