Wong wins third term in Fitchburg

Remains at the helm in Fitchburg; Holyoke elects 22-year-old novice

STEVE LANAVA/Telegram & Gazette
Mayor Lisa Wong thanked her supporters in a victory speech at her Main Street headquarters in Fitchburg.

Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg, the state’s first Asian-American woman mayor, staged a remarkable comeback to win reelection to a third term yesterday, and a 22-year-old political novice won a stunning victory to become mayor of the Western Massachusetts city of Holyoke.

Wong, who was trounced in the September primary by Councilor Joseph Solomito, outpolled her challenger by about 900 votes, or 4,236 to 3,351, according to the city clerk’s office. Wong lost the September primary to Solomito.

“We put boots on the ground,’’ a breathless Wong, 32, said last night by telephone. “A lot of people came forward who said they hadn’t voted in the primary, and we wanted to make sure people came out.’’


Wong spent the day knocking on doors in the small Central Massachusetts city of about 40,000. Campaign workers called voters, checked names at the polls, and held signs at the city’s 12 polling places. “We won because of the hard work by many people who believed in the vision I set four years ago, to protect tax dollars and to revive a city with a lot of creativity,’’ Wong said.

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In Holyoke, 22-year-old challenger Alex Morse ousted incumbent Elaine Pluta, winning 5,121 to 4,513, according to the city clerk’s office. Pluta, a former 14-year city councilor, became the city’s first female mayor when she was elected two years ago.

Morse, who graduated from Brown University in May, ran as an outsider, promising to improve low high school graduation rates, encourage business in the city, and improve services. He also opposes construction of a casino in the city of about 40,000, one of the state’s poorest, with a poverty rate of 28.4 percent, according to 2010 federal census data.

Elsewhere, four new mayors were elected to replace those who did not seek reelection, while other incumbents held onto their seats.

In Malden, Councilor Gary Christenson bested opponent Deborah Fallon, winning 66.7 percent of the vote for mayor, according to the city clerk’s office. He will succeed Mayor Richard C. Howard, who is leaving office after 16 years.


In Peabody, Councilor Edward A. Bettencourt Sr., 38, easily defeated Sean Fitzgerald. Bettencourt, a lawyer, hails from one of city’s best-known families. Fitzgerald, a former aide to outgoing Mayor Michael Bonfanti, is the town manager in Plaistow, N.H.

A hard-fought race in Methuen appeared headed for overtime. Councilor Stephen N. Zanni narrowly defeated Al DiNuccio by just 28 votes, 4,439 to 4,411. DiNuccio, who won the September primary to replace Mayor William Manzi, said he is not conceding the race and plans to seek a recount. “There were 100 votes not cast for mayor, so we have to see what that means,’’ he said last night. “A dot might not be picked up by the machine. . . . I don’t think it’s over.’’

But Zanni claimed victory in the Merrimack Valley city on the New Hampshire border.

“We came from behind to win,’’ Zanni said, noting he lost the primary by 76 votes. He attributed the victory to “a lot of hard work’’ by his organization and the “very positive, clean campaign’’ that he ran.

Several incumbent mayors were reelected, including Thomas P. Koch, who beat Anne M. Mahoney by a vote of 10,510 to 8,340 in Quincy.


Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr. of Beverly narrowly won a ninth term, edging out City Council President Michael Cahill, a former state representative, by 300 votes, according to unofficial results released by the city clerk’s office.

“I think it might be the sweetest one of the nine [elections] I’ve had,’’ Scanlon said in a telephone interview from Beverly. “I was fighting a hometown boy with a big family and a lot of history and a guy who makes a good first impression. So I think it was very sweet.’’

In Amesbury, Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III earned a fourth term, turning back a challenge from Ted Semesnyei, a Planning Board member.

Mayor Michael J. McGlynn of Medford was reelected to a 13th term, making him one of the state’s longest-serving mayors, by winning 64.3 percent of the vote, over Anthony D’Antonio. “What we had tonight is called a clean sweep,’’ McGlynn said, shouting over the din of several dozen supporters at a hotel.

Mayor Linda Balzotti of Brockton was reelected to a second two-year term, defeating challenger Ron Matta, according to the Brockton election office. Mayor Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester won a third term, defeating challenger Kenneth Sarofeen by a vote of 4,466 to 1,597, said Linda Lowe, city clerk.

In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno was reelected, defeating City Council President Jose Tosado. Under a rule change, the mayor’s term expands from two to four years.

And in New Bedford, former federal prosecutor Jon Mitchell was elected mayor, defeating longtime state Representative Antonio Cabral.

In Everett, voters approved a proposal to eliminate the city’s unique bicameral City Council. The changes will take effect by 2014.

Amesbury residents voted against having the town continue fluoridating its water supply. The Board of Health halted the practice last year due to concerns about the quality of the fluoride being used.

In Newton, Jonathan Yeo easily defeated Margaret Albright for a School Committee seat and Steven Siegel defeated incumbent Susan Rosenbaum. In a race for Newton alderman, challenger Greg Schwartz unseated incumbent Charles Shapiro.

Correspondents John Laidler, Dan Adams, Justin Rice, Jessica Bartlett, Jaclyn Reiss and Matt Byrne contributed. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.