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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Curtatone keeps mayoral seat in Somerville election

Somerville mayor Joseph A. Curtatone speaks at the Green Line Extension groundbreaking on Dec. 11, 2012.

Joseph Curtatone will continue his tenure as mayor of Somerville for at least the next two years, beating out Payton Corbett 73.21 percent to 26.79 percent as of press time during yesterday's municipal election, according to unofficial results from the city. Curtatone has served as mayor since 2004.

In elections for the Board of Aldermen and school committee, several incumbents lost their positions to insurgent candidates.

In the Alderman-at-Large race, John Connolly, Jr., Mary Jo Rossetti, Denis Michael Sullivan and William White, Jr. ran for re-election, with Stephanie Hirsch, Will Mbah and Kevin Allen Tarpley running as well. Hirsch and Mbah took enough of the vote to oust Connolly and Sullivan, while White and Rossetti will maintain their seats.

In Ward One, incumbent Matthew McLaughlin won for re-election against Elio LoRusso; in Ward Two, Maryann Heuston lost re-election against J.T. Scott; in Ward Three, Robert McWatters lost re-election against Ben Ewen-Campen; in Ward Four, Jesse Clingan beat Omar Boukili for a vacated seat.

In Wards Five, Six and Seven, incumbents Mark Niedergang, Lance Davis and Katjana Ballantyne ran uncontested and remained the Aldermen of their respective wards.

For the School Committee, Emily Ackman beat Kenneth Salvato in a vacant seat in Ward One and Dan Futrell won re-election against Susan McDonald-Nionakis in Ward Two. Lee Erica Palmer of Ward Three, Andre Green of Ward Four, Laura Pitone of Ward Five,Paula O'Sullivan of Ward Six and Carrie Normand of Ward Seven won re-election uncontested.

All election data is based on the unofficial results posted on the city’s website as of press time. These results do not include absentee, provisional, overseas or military ballots.

In his run for mayor, Corbett, a pro-union teamster, emphasized his support for municipal union workers and disdain for the influence of wealthy developers over Somerville housing development.

Communications and Policy Director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888 Rand Wilson was enthusiastic about the presence of a mayoral candidate representing the working class in Somerville, although he emphasized that, as Local 888 had not endorsed either of the mayoral candidates, he spoke about both candidates as an individual and not as a member of the organization.

“It's long overdue that working class people elect people of our own class rather than professionals, managerial people, lawyers and real estate agents who are mostly the people that run whose interests aren't the same as that of the regular workers,” Wilson said in an interview prior to the election.

SEIU Local 888, which includes more than 8,500 public service workers in the state, according to the union’s website, did endorse McLaughlin, Scott, Ewen-Campen and Clingan in the contested Board of Alderman elections.

Curtatone had been endorsed by multiple aldermen, including Niedergang, McLaughlin and Heuston, according to Joe Lynch, host of "Greater Somerville" on Somerville Community Access Television (SCAT). He was also endorsed by both U.S. senators of Massachusetts — Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey — according to Curtatone's campaign website.

“Mayor Curtatone has the courage to stand up for what is right, compassion for the range of struggles families face and the know-how to make real change happen at the local level,” Warren said in an endorsement statement posted on Curtatone's campaign website. “Mayor Joe Curtatone fights for all of Somerville’s families, and I’ve seen firsthand the extraordinary social and economic progress he’s achieved for his city. Our Commonwealth and our country need strong progressive leaders like Joe Curtatone.”

Corbett, meanwhile, received endorsements from labor groups such as the Greater Boston Labor Council and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2222, according to Somerville Labor Coalition's website. Our Revolution Somerville originally supported Corbett, but the group rescinded its support after the Boston Globe published an article revealing racist and sexist Facebook posts Corbett had made in 2009 and 2013, according to a Sept. 14 Somerville Journal article. Corbett later called the comments "mistakes" but criticized Our Revolution from withdrawing its endorsement, arguing the good he could do for working people outweighed these comments, the article said.

Lynch wondered whether the endorsements Curtatone and Corbett received had a significant effect on their performance in the race.

“I’m kind of ambivalent about endorsements,” Lynch said. “Unless endorsements translate into money and support, they’re not worth a whole lot in municipal elections.”

Lynch acknowledged, however, that Curtatone’s endorsements from both Warren and Markey were a blow to Corbett. Regarding the issues of unions and affordable housing, Lynch hoped the pressure from progressive and labor-centric candidates would pay off in Curtatone’s upcoming term.

“I hope he changes his tactics, no matter what, with the unions in the city. I hope that he gets the message loud and clear,” Lynch said. “He’s a good mayor. I wouldn’t to go backwards to where we were before [Curtatone’s] tenure. I think he’s still got some things to learn in terms of the treatment of unions and how he deals with them and I think he needs to make a more concerted effort to show he has the distance from the big deep-pocketed developers.”

Similarly, Wilson believed Corbett’s run for mayor could empower future candidates with similar visions.

“He’s already shown the mayor’s vulnerabilities and brought the issues up that he’s articulated as an important critique of this administration and that, I believe, will pave the way for other [labor candidates],” Wilson said.

The week prior, some members of Tufts Democrats tabled in Mayer Campus Center for students to vote in the Somerville and Medford elections, informing students of their polling places depending on where they lived, according to club Vice President Ben Kaminoff. Also, the club canvassed for incumbent Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke’s campaign over the weekend leading up to the election.

However, Tufts Democrats did not openly support either of the Somerville mayoral candidates.

“We are the home for the Democratic party at Tufts University,” Kaminoff, a senior, said. “If two Democrats are running, we can’t endorse one over the other, although some individual members might support one or the other.”

Meanwhile, city groups such as the Welcome Project, an advocacy group for Somerville’s immigrant community, encouraged residents to vote.

“We try to keep people in the loop of what’s going on. When there was a citywide mayoral debate we told people to go, find out about the candidates, research them, that type of thing,” Executive Director Ben Echevarria said. “We did a little bit of door knocking of anyone we know who’s an immigrant and a registered voter, and generally if we’re the organization that registered them we do reach out and remind them to vote.”

The evening of the election, Lynch and Keri Rodrigues, founder of Massachusetts Parents United, discussed the significance of the races during an episode of "Greater Somerville."

“Municipal elections are the elections that make the greatest difference in our community. A lot of people like to vote in the glamorous presidential elections … but this is where it happens," Rodrigues said during the show. "This is where the most important decisions are being made about your community."