Races to watch in today’s preliminary elections
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.
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.
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.
Staircase taken down: The state took down the rusted-out staircase in Dorchester where the body of BU professor David Jones was discovered September 11. The staircase had been closed off since January 2020. “We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. Read more.
No withdrawals: Gov. Charlie Baker says Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey cannot just withdraw the city’s harbor development plan, as she announced late last month. He said she has to submit a replacement plan to the state for its approval. In a procedural sense, that means developer Don Chiofaro’s proposed tower on the waterfront is still alive. Read more.
MCAS tug of war: The fight goes on over MCAS, with opponents of the test testifying in support of bills that would do away with it as a graduation requirement and Gov. Charlie Baker rising to its defense, calling it an enormous success. The back and forth appears to have ratcheted up a notch this year, with teacher union officials linking the test to white supremacy. Read more.
Baker’s powers: Constitutional scholar Lawrence Friedman says it is highly unlikely the US Supreme Court will take up a challenge to Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency powers during COVID. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Lawyers for veterans who died of COVID-19 at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have added Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders as a defendant in their lawsuit against officials running the facility. (Boston Globe)
Long-term changes are needed to “stabilize” the Worcester Fire Department, according to a 248-page report on the department. (Telegram & Gazette)
The union representing Massachusetts state troopers files suit against Gov. Charlie Baker, seeking to block his vaccination mandate order. The troopers want to be allowed to undergo weekly tests or wear a mask if they don’t want to be vaccinated. They also want COVID deaths and illnesses to be viewed as a line of duty injury and entitle the trooper to added benefits. (WBUR) New Bedford Light columnist Jack Spillane calls the line of duty proposal a costly pension grab.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines shows promising results in children under 12. (NPR)
Researchers say a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides 94 percent protection against mild to severe COVID-19. (New York Times)
A new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post says Sen. Lindsey Graham met in early January with Rudy Giuliani to hear about claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and deemed the arguments suitable for “third grade.” (Washington Post)
Larry Edelman looks at how worried we should be about Wall Street’s downward movement in recent days. (Boston Globe)
Hundreds of students violently protest outside the Theta Chi fraternity at UMass Amherst after a first-year student alleged on social media that she was drugged and assaulted there. Two students were arrested for inciting a riot. UMass officials said they can’t take any action without a complaint. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Massachusetts state community colleges say all students and staff must be vaccinated by 2022. (WBUR)
A football game between Roxbury Prep Charter School and Georgetown High School at the North Shore school was suspended on Friday night as fights broke out between the teams amid charges that racist taunts were being directed at the Roxbury players. (Boston Herald)
The King Boston nonprofit awarded $1 million to the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury where Martin Luther King preached during his time living in Boston. (Boston Globe)
Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to make appointments to the new seven-person board overseeing the MBTA, but aides suggested he will do so soon. (Boston Globe)
New York approves two massive transmission projects to bring solar and on-shore wind power from the northern part of the state and hydroelectricity from Quebec to New York City. (Renewable Energy World)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTSThe sentencing of former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia on federal corruption charges will carry over to today after US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock yesterday overturned eight of the 21 convictions in his case. (Boston Globe)
Nidu Andrade, one of 14 Massachusetts state troopers dishonorably discharged or who quit while under investigation over the last year, sent sexually charged messages to a woman whose domestic abuse call he responded to, according to the Boston Herald.