Tuesday’s a big day for the first wave of ward representative candidates for Springfield’s City Council and School Committee—well, at least for some of them.
Preliminaries are held for seats if there are more than twice the number of candidates than there are open seats—for instance, more than two candidates running for the mayor’s seat (this year, there aren’t) or more than 10 running for the five at-large City Council seats (again, not this year). The lack of a preliminary in both the mayor’s and at-large council races means not all voters will even have a reason to go to the polls this week—just those who live in the six wards that have contested preliminary races for their ward council or district School Committee seats. Because of the lack of city-wide races, turnout expectations are low; Kathy Hoar Fleury, secretary of the city’s Election Commission, is hoping to see 15 percent of registered voters show up.
It’s disappointing that the long-awaited, and hard-won, advent of ward representation didn’t attract a large enough swarm of quality candidates to require preliminaries in all eight wards. Still, those wards that do have preliminary races have seen a good deal of energy and debate, from organized neighborhood forums to the back-and-forth of anonymous posters at MassLive.com.
Local bloggers have weighed in, too: On Michaelann Land, ward rep activist Michaelann Bewsee offers her take of a candidates’ night in her neighborhood, Ward 6. Meanwhile, Springfield native Tom Devine (who, his Northampton address aside, still tracks politics in his hometown) offers his succinct take on whom and whom not to vote for. And we mean succinct: Among Devine’s recommendations of candidates voters should not support, he handily dismisses Ward 2’s Robert Underwood (“He gives libertarianism a bad name”) and Ward 7’s Mike Rodgers (“He loved Albano”) More magnanimously, while Devine picks John Lysak for the Ward 8, he refrains from naming any of Lysak’s rivals as that ward’s “whom to vote against” candidate, noting, “In a rarity for a Springfield contest, a surprisingly strong field in this ward with no obvious assholes.”
For ward maps and other election information, turn to the city’s Elections Commission.
Those candidates who do survive Tuesday’s preliminaries will dive right into heavy campaign season, with more debates and other opportunities for them to pitch their case to voters. Things kick off on Wed., Sept. 16, when the Springfield chapter of the Mass. Senior Action Council hosts a candidates’ forum, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at 1124 Bekrshire Ave. (Organizers promises “light refreshments” and a raffle.) For more information, call 543-2334 or go to www.masssenioraction.org.