The Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council has released its latest round of endorsements for this year’s election season, although the group has yet to announce a pick in the biggest race, that for Springfield’s mayor.
The labor council’s newest endorsements for the Springfield City Council are incumbents Jimmy Ferrera and Jose Tosado, both of whom are running for at-large seats. (In an earlier round of endorsements, released prior to the Sept. 15 preliminary election, the group picked E. Henry Twiggs in Ward 4, Clodo Conception in Ward 5, Mike Rodgers in Ward 7 and Orlando Ramos in Ward 8. All four will be on the November ballot.)
The PVCLC also endorsed Antonette Pepe and Denise Hurst for the School Committee’s two open at-large seats; because they are the only candidates, they’re virtually assured victories. The labor council had earlier endorsed incumbent Chris Collins for the Committee’s District 2 seat. Collins made a strong showing in the preliminary, with 1,400 votes—more than any other candidate on the Springfield ballot.
In other communities, the labor council endorsed Patty Devine, Rebecca Lisi and Peter Tallman for at-large seats on the Holyoke City Council, and Diosdado Lopez for Holyoke’s Ward 2 seat. The group also endorsed Justin Cobb, a candidate for the Easthampton City Council. Previously, the PVCLC picked Elaine Pluta for Holyoke mayor, and incumbent Michael Bissonnette for mayor of Chicopee.
The group promises more endorsements next month. Presumably, that list will include its pick for mayor of Springfield. In 2007, much of the local labor movement threw its support behind then-City Councilor Dom Sarno, who ended up defeating incumbent Charlie Ryan. (Ryan had a rocky relationship with a number of local labor groups, who were unhappy with contract negotiations between municipal unions and the Finance Control Board, on which the mayor sat.) Since then, however, Sarno has also angered many in the labor camp for his support of privatizing certain city jobs—a move, interestingly, that he came out against when it was suggested during the Ryan administration. It remains to be seen whether the labor council will now offer its support to Sarno’s challenger, City Councilor Bud Williams.
In other election news, Bill Dusty’s Springfield Intruder reports this week on the write-in City Council campaign of Sarno’s press aide, Tom Walsh. Walsh had considered running for the Ward 6 seat earlier this year, going so far as to collect signatures on nomination papers. In the end, he decided not to run—a decision, he says, that he reached amicably with Sarno.
But apparently not everyone was happy with that decision, including a number of Walsh’s neighbors, who launched a last-minute write-in campaign for him in the days before the preliminary. Walsh told the Advocate that he was flattered by that effort, which he said his supporters launched without his involvement. While he didn’t win one of the top two seats in the preliminary—those went to Amaad Rivera and Keith Wright, whose names will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot—Walsh did score an impressive second-place finish in his home precinct, 6A, behind Rivera and ahead of Wright.
Dusty’s blog points to one potentially sticky aspect of what he calls Walsh’s “unintentional” candidacy: Walsh’s supporters include opponents of the controversial plan to redevelop the old Longhill Gardens complex into a mix of affordable and market-rate housing. Walsh, when asked by Dusty his view on the project, declined to answer. But, Dusty noted, there’s a “No Longhill Gardens” sign on the lawn of the house where Walsh lives with his mother.
Walsh’s boss, of course, supports the redevelopment project—a position that’s earned him the anger of many in the Forest Park neighborhood, where the issue has been a heated and divisive one.
Walsh’s supporters told Dusty that they will continue to push his write-in candidacy for the Nov. 3 general election. (Walsh told the Advocate he doesn’t intend to campaign.)
If Walsh were to win the seat, he could, by law, retain his position in the mayor’s office, although he could only accept one city salary (city councilors are paid in Springfield). As Dusty points out, though, serving in the mayor’s office and on the City Council would likely be untenable, given the many opportunities for conflicts of interest.