Keller at Large
Keller: Boston’s Election – History or Anemia?
On this week’s “Keller at Large,” Jon Keller takes a look at the Boston mayoral race with Election Day now upon us. Keller’s take on the Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu matchup: “The biggest buzz about this ‘historic’ race heading into election day was widespread speculation that turnout might be historically bad.”
Today | Election Day in 61 municipalities across Massachusetts including the mayoral race in Boston. Voters in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham also head to the polls for a special primary election to fill the 4th Essex House seat.
11 a.m. | House holds informal session. The branch last met on Friday when lawmakers passed a $3.28 billion spending plan drawing from American Rescue Plan Act funds and fiscal 2021 surplus revenue.
11 a.m. | Special Joint Committee on Redistricting plans to host a hearing to accept public comment on draft Congressional and Governor’s Council maps.
11 a.m. | Housing Committee meets virtually and will accept testimony on 10 bills dealing with condominium laws.
5 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attend an evening fundraising reception at Dillon’s, a restaurant and bar in the Back Bay.
The local elections roundup
Boston may be the hub, but it might not be your center of the universe this Election Day.
A slate of other municipalities are also holding important mayoral elections today, including in Framingham where the state’s first popularly elected Black female mayor faces a serious challenge.
To be exact, 61 communities are holding elections today, including the six towns heading to the polls for primaries in the House special election in the 4th Essex District and 55 cities and towns holding regular municipal elections. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that statewide, over 135,000 voters have requested mail-in ballots and more than 89,000 mail-in ballots have been received by local elections officials.
Here are a few races to keep an eye on today as results start trickling in:
Framingham: Mayor Yvonne Spicer faces a challenge from former City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky, who earned twice as many votes as Spicer during the September preliminary, MetroWest Daily News’ Zane Razzaq reported. Spicer is backed by high-profile Massachusetts politicians, including U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Gloucester: Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken goes up against challenger Greg Verga, a former city councilor and school committee member. Gloucester Daily Times’ Taylor Ann Bradford reported there was confusion a few weeks ago when an email blast made it unclear who was backing who in the race. Romeo Theken has enjoyed a close relationship with the Baker administration.
Somerville: City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne are looking to fill the seat long held by Mayor Joe Curtatone, who decided not to run for re-election. GBH’s Adam Reilly recently took a deep dive into the city’s race with a focus on how the area has changed over the years.
Amesbury: From the House to Amesbury City Hall. That’s the path Republican Rep. James Kelcourse is hoping to take as he challenges incumbent Mayor Kassandra Gove for the city’s top office. Gove is running for a second term and recently urged voters to not “sit this one out,” reports The Daily News’ Heather Alterisio. Kelcourse doesn’t have to give up his House seat just yet, though he would most likely resign mid-term if he wins — prompting a special election for the seat.
Lowell: Let’s break away from mayoral races for a second and take a look at Lowell. Residents will participate in a new election format that came about as a result of a 2017 lawsuit against the use of an at-large system to elect city councilors and school committee members, reports Lowell Sun’s Aaron Curtis. That new system creates eight new districts that were drawn to contain roughly the same number of registered voters.
Senate ARPA plan would put $250M into public health
We have some new clues as to what the Senate’s plan to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds will look like. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that the branch will propose investing $250 million into public health infrastructure — more than $150 million than the House set aside in their $3.82 billion proposal.
Senate leaders are expected to unveil their full proposal as soon as Wednesday, Murphy reports, so keep an eye out for how else they will suggest using billions in federal aid and revenue surplus from fiscal 2021.
More from Murphy: “[Public Health Committee co-chair Sen. Jo] Comerford described investing in public health systems as ‘among the most perfect ways’ to spend ARPA funding because of the relief money’s origin in a public health crisis that strained local systems and exposed inequities for residents depending on where they lived.”
City evicts hundreds from Mass and Cass as officials clear tents
Those left living on Mass and Cass took down tents and stored their belongings in plastic bins as city officials moved to clear the area Monday morning. GBH News’ Tori Bedford reports that upwards of 150 tents remained in the area despite efforts by the city to remove encampments in recent weeks. Eviction notices were placed throughout the area notifying people to leave by 8 a.m. yesterday.
More from Bedford: “In accordance with Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s executive order, issued last month, people living in tents were offered rooms at two separate overnight shelters for men and women in the neighborhood, information about substance use recovery services and free storage of their possessions in a 27-gallon container for a maximum of 90 days.”
Baker bucks: Another surge in spending from governor-aligned Super PAC
The cash is really flowing now. Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth reports the Massachusetts Majority PAC has now spent north of a quarter million dollars to support some 19 candidates in city races across the state after another surge in donations went out over the weekend. The group, which Gov. Baker fundraises on behalf of, has accounted for half of all the cash spent by some campaigns.
Reunited: New map puts Fall River squarely in 4th Congressional district
Proposed redistricting maps would unite the SouthCoast city of Fall River within the 4th Congressional District, a move applauded by U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss but criticized by New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and some advocates, who wanted the two cities to remain in a single district to emphasize the voting power of minorities in the region, Chris Lisinski of State House News Service reports.
Here’s another historic local race to watch on Tuesday
For the first time, the next mayor of North Adams will be a woman. Like Boston, the city is set to make history, reports Berkshire Eagle’s Greta Jochem. The two candidates — Jennifer Macksey and Lynette Bond — are seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Tom Bernard. Bond serves on the city’s planning board and works at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts while Macksey serves as assistant superintendent of operations and finance at the North Berkshire School Union.
Themes and storylines from Boston mayoral election
As far as the Boston mayoral race is concerned, there are quite a few storylines to follow between candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George. GBH News’ Adam Reilly has you covered with a look at the seven political subplots to watch on Election Day and Beyond. The first: If Wu wins, will she get the mandate she needs?
More from Reilly: “Wu has big plans for Boston: bring back rent control, make the T free, and implement a Boston Green New Deal, among other things. These systemic changes may or may not come to pass — in part because other branches of government would need to be on board — but they’ll be a lot easier to pursue if Wu becomes mayor with overwhelming support from Boston voters. If, conversely, the election is significantly closer than the polls suggest, Wu’s ability to implement her vision could take a hit.”
Maine event: Bay State climate plan on the ballot out of state
All he can do is wait and watch. Gov. Charlie Baker says he’ll be paying attention to election returns on Tuesday from the state of Maine, where voters could unwind an interstate hydropower deal that is a key part of the Bay State’s plans to get more of its electricity from renewable sources. Bruce Mohl of Commonwealth and the Globe’s Sabrina Shankman report Baker labeled the vote “a big deal.”
Who is Walsh supporting today?
Here’s an interesting question that doesn’t have a clear answer: who is U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh voting for in the Boston mayoral election? Boston Business Journal’s Catherine Clark reports that Walsh won’t say exactly who but offered this, “I’m looking forward to offering whoever wins any advice they need.”
Almost all workers at UMass Memorial Health vaccinated ahead of deadline
Almost 95 percent of workers at UMass Memorial Health received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of a mandate that starts today. MassLive’s Michael Bonner reports that the health system is still reviewing deferrals/exemptions and decisions won’t be finalized for a few more weeks. Unvaccinated staff members will have to wear additional personal protective equipment and submit to regular testing.
More from Bonner: “Unvaccinated caregivers without an approved medical or religious exemption who have not received their first dose or the J&J shot by Dec. 1 will lose their jobs and be ineligible to work at UMass Memorial Health until they are vaccinated.”
What does it take to save a tiny turtle in Western MA?
It takes a partnership between Massachusetts and six other states. WBUR’s Hannah Chanatry reports that the Bog turtle, an endangered species in Massachusetts found only in the western part of the state, is believed to be on the road to recovery as the partnership looks to protect the species and identify where conservation can expand. (Side note: the pictures in this story are awesome.)
Cut off: Public access TV at risk as cable customer base dwindles
Wither Wayne’s World? Lillian Eden of the MetroWest Daily News reports local public access TV channels are seeing dwindling funding and an uncertain future as millions of former cable customers cut the cord and embrace streaming services that don’t have contracts with cities and towns requiring they support the free outlets.
Clark purchases new property as it looks to expand
Clark University paid $7 million for a new property blocks away from its Worcester campus in an expansion effort, reports Boston Business Journal’s Grant Welker. The university purchased a former Chevrolet dealership and said it is still considering what to do with the 7-acre property.
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