Voter Guide: Contested Mayoral Races In 6 Western Mass. Cities
Voters in a half dozen communities in the four western counties of Massachusetts have some big decisions to make on November 5. Chicopee, Greenfield, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield and Westfield each have contested races for mayor.
Agawam and Easthampton voters will also cast ballots for mayor this year, but there's no competition. Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Agawam's William Sapelli face no opponents in their bids for re-election.
Massachusetts law says during local elections, towns only have to keep voting open for four hours. In cities, it's 10 hours.
Still, most communities plan to keep their polling places open for 12 or 13 hours on Tuesday, but not North Adams. Polls there are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
NEPR report: "Candidates For Chicopee Mayor Disagree On Downtown Safety."
Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos has led the city during two stints, from 1997 to 2004, and again from 2016 to the present. Kos announced earlier this year he would not seek another two-year term, choosing to instead focus on his law practice.
Four candidates filed to run for mayor in Chicopee, necessitating a preliminary election that left another former mayor (and frequent Kos opponent), Michael Bissonnette, off the November ballot.
Instead, voters will choose between City Council President John Vieau (who won 45% in the first round) and Joseph Morissette Jr., an assistant principal at Chicopee Comprehensive High School (who won 29%).
Amid controversy over a personnel decision, Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin said last year he would not seek re-election.
The election to replace Martin comes as Greenfield has struggled to find shelter for its homeless residents, and to reach agreement on two other hot topics in local government: whether and how to build a new library, and whether and how to declare local police would not work with federal immigration officials.
Both questions are on the ballot this November, along with that open mayoral race.
Roxann Wedegartner, a veteran of Greenfield government, and Sheila Gilmour, a current city councilor, are on the ballot, having won 38% and 31% respectively in the preliminary. The candidate who finished in third place (last place) by 54 votes, City Councilor Brickett Allis, declined to concede. He's running as a write-in.
North Adams is used to long-serving mayors. Richard Alcombright had the job for eight years. Before him, John Barrett (now in the Massachusetts House) served 26 years.
So as the current mayor, Tom Bernard, faces his first re-election test, history is on his side.
Bernard is up against Rachel Branch, a member of the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School Committee who is involved in a long list of causes. Branch also ran for mayor in 2017, garnering about 4% of votes in the preliminary. This year, with only two candidates, there was no preliminary.
NEPR report: "Competitive Mayor's Race In Pittsfield Focuses On Crime."
NEPR report: "Mayoral Race In Pittsfield Most Expensive In Western Mass."
More than a decade after General Electric closed its last division in Pittsfield, Berkshire County's largest city is continuing to try to reinvent its economy. Crime has also been a major issue in this year's mayoral election.
Two established politicians, both women, are vying for the job. Melissa Mazzeo, who has spent a decade on the city council, is running against incumbent Mayor Linda Tyer.
Tyer, finishing up her first four-year term, lost the September preliminary election to Mazzeo by about 5 percentage points.
NEPR report: "In Springfield Mayoral Race, Sarno Sees No Need To Engage."
It's been a busy four years since Mayor Domenic Sarno last faced voters. A nearly billion-dollar casino opened downtown, bringing it with a lot of fanfare and hundreds of promised jobs — though perhaps not as many as once promised. Sarno has also been saddled with a barrage of police scandals and the lawsuits that come with them.
Sarno dominated the September preliminary election, winning more than 76% in a four-way race. He advanced to the November ballot along with community organizer Yolanda Cancel, who received 15%.
In Westfield, the next mayor will either be a sitting state senator or a police captain.
Incumbent Brian Sullivan is not seeking re-election. The two candidates to emerge from the preliminary were Don Humason, a Republican state senator, and police captain Michael McCabe. Humason finished about 100 votes ahead.
A big issue in Westfield: water. Some of the city's public wells were contaminated with PFAS chemicals, believed to have originated in firefighter foam used at nearby Barnes airport. Westfield has been fighting the chemical's manufacturers, hoping to recoup the costs of installing filters to reopen the wells.
Bookmark this page for updates and links to more NEPR coverage.