Four Democrats — three from Brockton and one from Easton — are vying to replace state Representative Geraldine Creedon, a Brockton Democrat, who is retiring this year after 18 years on Beacon Hill.
Even though the primary election is more than three months away, two candidate forums have been held already, and the four candidates have been campaigning actively for weeks in the 11th Plymouth District, which is split between Brockton and Easton.
“There is a lot of interest because of the perception that opportunities like this don’t come along very often,” said Michael Kryzanek, a political scientist at Bridgewater State University. “Geri Creedon has been in office almost 20 years, and the Creedon name has been huge in Brockton politics for so long. This is seen as a new era.”
The candidates who will compete in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary are Brockton at-large city councilors Robert F. Sullivan and Jass Stewart, Southeastern Regional School District Committee chairman Mark Linde of Brockton, and Claire Cronin, a Brockton attorney who lives in Easton.
No Republican candidates submitted nomination papers before the May 1 filing deadline, although a write-in campaign is still possible for the primary.
Creedon’s departure from the House at the end of this year will mark the first time in approximately four decades that a member of the Creedon family has not represented Brockton in the state Legislature. Creedon’s husband, Robert S. Creedon Jr., now Plymouth County clerk of courts, and his brother, Michael, both served in the House and Senate.
The 11th Plymouth District and the other two House districts that span Brockton were reconfigured in last year’s legislative redistricting to create a “minority-majority” district; non-whites make up a majority in the Ninth Plymouth District, which is represented by Brockton Democrat Michael D. Brady, who is white.
The 11th District lost minority population in the redistricting. Stewart, who in 2010 became Brockton’s first African-American city councilor, would be the city’s first non-white state legislator if he were to win the election.
The 11th District is made up of Brockton’s west and north sections and almost all of Easton. Brockton has a slight edge in population in the district, which includes seven Brockton precincts and five in Easton.
In the first months of the campaign, the four candidates have been focusing on their qualifications and broad themes.
Sullivan, 42, an attorney who has been on the City Council since 2006, points to his prior experience as chief legal counsel to the Legislature’s Election Laws Committee and current position as Randolph’s town counsel. He lived in Easton from 2001 to 2003.
“I think the voters are looking for proven leadership and experience in tough economic times,” he said.
Sullivan ran for state representative in the Ninth District in 2008, losing to Brady by 13 votes. This year’s redistricting shifted his home into the 11th District.
Cronin, 52, grew up in Brockton and is a former member of the Brockton Democratic City Committee. She now serves on the Democratic State Committee and the Easton Democrat Town Committee. She has been active in many Brockton and Easton civic organizations. Her uncle, C. Gerald Lucey, was mayor of Brockton in the 1950s.
“I am probably the only candidate with strong and sustained roots in both communities,” Cronin said.
Linde, 50, is general manager of Brockton Community Access cable television, an adjunct faculty member at Massasoit Community College, and chairman of Brockton’s Board of Library Trustees.
“My lifetime of involvement in public and community activities shows my commitment to community,” Linde said.
Stewart, 41, ran twice for mayor of Brockton unsuccessfully before winning a seat on the council. He serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Brockton and has been active in other community groups. He points to his efforts on the council to curb nepotism in Brockton city government, and to move city money out of Bank of America to local banks.
“My slogan is ‘independent Democrat,’ ” Stewart said. “I think my record speaks for itself.”
Low turnout is expected for the election. There are no high-profile contests elsewhere on the ballot to draw voters to the polls. Also, the election will be held on a Thursday, not Tuesday, which is usually election day in Massachusetts.
Secretary of State William Galvin moved the date so that the election would not conflict with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana.
“It’s going to be a very low turnout,” said state Senator Thomas P. Kennedy, a Brockton Democrat who is neutral in the House race. “The election will go to whoever gets their name out and works the hardest.”