Boston isn’t the only city with a hot mayoral election

Eight Massachusetts cities are holding preliminary elections for mayor this month without an incumbent standing for reelection. 

The exodus of the eight incumbents, who occupy roughly a quarter of the mayoral offices up for grabs this year, is an unusually high number and undoubtedly reflects the grind of COVID. Five of the incumbents decided to step down and three took jobs elsewhere. 

Of the eight, Boston has grabbed most of the attention, with five candidates, four of them women, vying to become the first mayor of color in the city’s history.  

But there are seven other similarly wide open races in Holyoke, Lawrence, Lynn, Newburyport, North Adams, Northampton, and Somerville. Many of them feature crowded fields that will be narrowed in this month’s preliminary election to two candidates who will compete in the final on November 2. 

Joe Curtatone, the popular Somerville mayor, is leaving after 10 terms in office. Four candidates are vying to replace him, including two city councilors, Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne; Mary Cassesso, who most recently worked as chief community officer at Cambridge Health Alliance; and William Tauro, a harsh critic of Curtatone. 

GBH’s Adam Reilly profiled the race early last month, prompting Curtatone to take a whack at him and Tauro afterward on Twitter. “How do you write a profile of Somerville mayoral candidates and not include that Billy Tauro is a convicted felon who spent time in jail for fraud? How is that not in the first sentence of his bio?” Curtatone asked. 

In Lawrence, five candidates are seeking to replace Dan Rivera, who left before his term expired when he was appointed to the top job at MassDevelopment by Gov. Charlie Baker. City Council President Kendrys Vasquez took over as acting mayor when Rivera stepped down and now wants the job permanently. He is running against popular former city councilor Brian DePena, Doris Rodriguez, former Rivera aide Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, and former mayor William Lantigua.

Four women are running for mayor of North Adams, which guarantees the city will have its first woman mayor. Six candidates are running for mayor in Holyoke, five are campaigning in Northampton, and three in Newburyport.

In Lynn, City Council president Darren Cyr and School Committee members Jared Nicholson and Michael Satterwhite are running for mayor, seeking to replace Thomas McGee, who is stepping down.  

Left-leaning Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham took a look at McGee’s tenure in late June and raised concerns about the candidacy of Cyr, who she described as “hotheaded” and a “throwback.” Abraham raised concerns about who will turn out to vote.

“This is a crucial moment for Lynn. But this massively important election, like those for mayor in Boston and other cities, comes at a time when folks are exhausted by the pandemic, and less engaged with politics after the Trump years. Which means the September 14 primary might be decided by the small minority of voters — disproportionately white, and older —who cast ballots in every election,” she wrote.

BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Ballot cutdown day: Attorney General Maura Healey’s office allowed 16 ballot questions and one constitutional amendment to continue moving toward the ballot in 2022. The list of questions that can now set about gathering the 80,239 signatures needed to get on the ballot deal with a wide variety of policy issues, ranging from legalizing fireworks and happy hours to authorizing much higher subsidies for zero emission vehicles and blocking Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation climate initiative.

Healey’s office also approved questions requiring voters to show government-issued photo IDs in order to vote, giving state officials the power to ban any fishing equipment that could entangle whales or sea turtles, and barring hospital CEOs from serving on boards or being paid by companies that sell medical services or pharmaceuticals.

— Even though the attorney general is suing Uber and Lyft for failing to treat their drivers as full-time employees, her office approved a question backed by those companies and others that would require their workers be treated as independent contractors.

— Healey’s office rejected 13 questions, including proposals limiting hospital profit margins, preserving the lives of children born alive, and assorted other odds and ends. Read more.

Cannabis sales soaring: Marijuana sales are averaging nearly $106 million a month this year, according to the Cannabis Control Commission. Read more.

Vaccine mandate expands: Less than a month after Gov. Charlie Baker announced a COVID vaccine mandate for all nursing home workers, the administration expanded the order to include home health aides and other long-term care employees. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council made official the widely reported word that Sen. Joe Boncore will be the trade organization’s new CEO. Boncore said he’ll resign his Senate seat next week, setting in motion a special election in the district that includes his hometown of Winthrop along with Revere and parts of Boston and Cambridge. (Boston Herald

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr pushes to cap the amount of sick leave that can accrue to state workers. (Gloucester Daily Times)

The state’s largest teachers union is pushing an early retirement bill, but its costs remain unclear. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

A Salem city councilor is accused by his opponent of fabricating and misconstruing quotes in his campaign literature. (Salem News)

Boston became the latest city to impose a municipal eviction ban, but even advocates acknowledge the move is a stopgap measure. (Boston Globe)

A lawsuit filed by the Hampden register of deeds seeks to keep the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield closed until it is no longer deemed a health hazard. (MassLive)

Northampton moves to clean up Pulaski Park after a beating occurs there. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

There were 3,700 new breakthrough COVID cases in Massachusetts in the last week. (WCVB)

Positive COVID tests are ravaging the Boston Red Sox, sidelining key players as the team struggles to cling to a post-season playoff berth. (Boston Globe)

Worn down by COVID, two top public health officials in Pittsfield call it quits. (Berkshire Eagle)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, said it won’t block a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state, the most restrictive anti-abortion statute now in place in the US. (New York Times

The Washington Post profiles Sgt. Johanny Rosario, the Lawrence 25-year-old who was killed in the August 26 suicide attack on the Kabul airport. 

ELECTIONS

Acting Mayor Kim Janey has skipped half of the 60 candidate forums held in the mayor’s race since April; her four rivals have attended almost all of them. (Boston Globe

Former mayor Marty Walsh says he’s staying neutral in the race to be his successor — but his mom is backing Annissa Essaibi George. (Boston Globe

Former TV news reporter Gail Huff, the wife of former US senator Scott Brown, says she’s considering a Republican run for Congress from the First Congressional District in New Hampshire where the couple now live. (Boston Globe

EDUCATION

A shortage of substitute teachers is making it hard for schools to cover classes when teachers are out. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Boston Public Schools face a significant shortage of school bus drivers a week before classes begin, with delays and uncovered routes expected for the start of the school year. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The overnight rainfall is wreaking havoc with train service in the Northeast, with Amtrak service suspended this morning between Boston and Philadelphia. Service on eight New York City subway lines has been suspended and 10 others are partially suspended. (New York Times

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A bankruptcy judge tentatively approves a $10 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma that resolves lawsuits related to its marketing of the addictive opioid drug OxyContin. (Associated Press)

MEDIA

Digital drives an overall circulation increase at the Boston Globe (despite a drop in print subscriptions), but the Boston Herald’s circulation is down, with digital subscriptions flat and print subscriptions continuing to fall. (Media Nation)

PASSINGS

Dr. Robert Finberg, a UMass Medical School professor of medicine and a leading researcher into COVID vaccines, dies unexpectedly at 71. (Telegram & Gazette