Results: Wedegartner ousted in Greenfield while other western Mass. mayors survive challenges
Voters in Greenfield, Massachusetts, ousted Mayor Roxann Wedegartner in a landslide Tuesday, while incumbents in Springfield, Chicopee, North Adams and Westfield kept their jobs.
It was an ebullient night for supporters of Greenfield City Councilor Virginia “Ginny” Desorgher, who won in a landslide victory to become the city’s next mayor. She defeated Wedegartner with 72% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the city clerk’s office. Turnout in the election was at 33%.
Speaking at her election night party, Desorgher said she had expected a win that big.
“This is what I thought it was going to be knocking on the doors,” she said. “I kept knocking on the doors and it felt like seven out of 10. And I did over 2,000 doors.”
Wedegartner had drawn support from establishment politicians across the region, including Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
On Tuesday, Desorgher’s supporters said it was her “people-powered” campaign that made the difference. She received endorsements from the local unions representing a wide range of workers in the city including teachers, nurses, grocery store workers and bus drivers.
“We all did it together, and that’s how we’re going to move forward,” Desorgher told supporters at her party.
Policing, affordability, housing and the schools were important issues for voters. Desorgher had criticized Wedegartner’s decision to reinstate the city's police chief last year after a jury found he’d discriminated against a Black officer in the department.
But Desorgher said most people told her they wanted a mayor they could trust.
In an interview at her own election-night party, Wedegartner said the city has moved in a positive direction under her watch, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What the issues are are going to be there tomorrow and it will be up to the new mayor to handle them,” Wedegartner said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno earned another four-year term Tuesday, defeating his challenger, City Councilor Justin Hurst
Sarno, Springfield's longest serving mayor, faced his most serious challenge in years but still beat Hurst by a 15-point margin.
At his victory celebration, Sarno said he had several priorities in mind for his next term.
"We're going to continue to build new parks. We're going to continue to build on the $5 billion of economic development projects. I'm humbled and honored. I love this job, I live it 24-7," he said.
Should Sarno serve out the entire four years of his next term, he will have been mayor for two full decades.
In his concession speech, Hurst said he would continue to fight the city's "establishment" and indicated he would consider running for mayor again in four years.
At the polls, voter Patricia Kirby said she supported Sarno because of his visibility.
"Everywhere I go, I see him. He seemed to be a people person. He seems to — when the issues come up — he will try to help others."
Charlotte Hackman said she voted for Hurst, because she believed the city needed new leadership.
"I feel like it's time for a change. As they say, new blood. Young blood. We need something," she said. "We need some new stuff. We need some changes — a lot of changes."
According to the unofficial vote tally, about 19% of Springfield's voters cast ballots in this election.
Chicopee’s incumbent mayor, John Vieau, won the city's mayoral election, but not without a fight from challenger Delmarina López.
Vieau received 5,058 votes while López, a city councilor, earned 3,695.
Vieau had a lot of supporters cheering for him at the Portuguese American Club after his campaign declared victory.
“The voters spoke today. I believe in democracy," he said. "We have a lot of wonderful projects we're working on. The city has so much potential and I'm looking forward to two more years.”
Vieau says he “doesn’t hold grudges” and will continue to work with López to get things done in Chicopee.
Meanwhile, López gathered with her supporters at Rumbleseat Bar and Grille after the results came in.
“I'm a two-year city councilor who came incredibly close to a 20-year incumbent. A woman — the city's never seen that," she said of her candidacy. "We've changed the trajectory of campaigns in this city forever.”
López is the first woman on Chicopee’s city council in over 10 years and the first woman of color to be a city councilor in the city’s history.
She said she’s not making any promises that she’ll run again, but is excited to continue working for the community.
López won Caitlin Casey's vote.
"Because she actually knocked on my door and asked for her vote, and we had a conversation," Casey said. "And I liked her politics and her views on stuff. And then even when she sent [a] letter in the mail, it was personalized. So that kind of says a lot about her character. "
Karen Leahy voted for Vieau.
“I voted for Vieau because I don't feel like he's done a very bad job, so I decided to vote for him again," she said. "I'm hoping he pays attention to the speeding that's going on on the side of the road."
Leahy also wants to the mayor to focus on schools, veterans and the elderly.
Two other western Massachusetts communities — Agawam and Pittsfield — elected new mayors on Tuesday. Incumbents there opted not to seek reelection.
Dusty Christensen, Adam Frenier, Sam Hudzik, Tara Monastesse, Kari Njiiri, Elizabeth Román and Nirvani Williams contributed.