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Springfield Ward Five council election draws a crowd

City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Creative Commons
City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Voters in Springfield's Ward Five will begin the process Tuesday of electing a new city councilor. The opening has drawn quite a bit of interest.

The seat is open after Marcus Williams resigned from the city council in May. Seven candidates are on the ballot, meaning two special elections are needed. The preliminary on Tuesday will trim the field down to two, with the finalists meeting in a general election Sept. 13.

Springfield's Elections Commissioner Gladys Oyola-Lopez said her office has received 450 mail-in ballots as of Monday afternoon. She said number might have been bolstered by the state primary election Sept. 6.

Oyola-Lopez said voters who received an application to vote by mail had the option of checking a box to do so for all elections this year, including the special council race.

"When a voters checks off that they want to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for all elections this year, then we are obliged to send them a ballot for this Ward Five election if they live in Ward Five."

This is the first time special elections are being used to fill a mid-term vacancy on the council. The state legislature recently passed a home rule petition allowing Springfield council vacancies to be filled first by the next-highest finisher in the previous election. Williams ran unopposed in 2021, so the special election path was needed.

Oyola-Lopez said she's not sure just how much, but running additional elections does come with a cost.

"Having to send ballots by mail so there's that added postage," Oyola-Lopez said. "We have all of the poll workers that are all working in these different sites, so I'm not sure yet, but it will be enough."
The winner will serve out more than a year remaining on Williams' term.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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