Mayoral candidates in cities across the region are scrambling for last-minute votes as the fall municipal election season steams toward a finale.
The presidential race may be center stage in national politics, but with the approach of Tuesday’s city elections, some hotly contested mayoral races are stirring local interest. Among them are battles for open seats in Braintree, Brockton, Melrose, and Methuen, and incumbent challenges in Waltham, Revere, and several other cities.
The Melrose race marks the city’s first for an open mayoral seat since Robert J. Dolan was first elected in 2001. Dolan resigned last year and Gail Infurna, who as City Council president replaced him, is not running for mayor.
The contestants, Democratic state Representative Paul Brodeur and Councilor At-Large Monica Medeiros, are well known to city voters. The two advanced in a five-way preliminary, with Brodeur outpacing Medeiros by 2,576 votes to 2,397.
A supporter of last April’s successful $5.2 million tax override for the schools, Brodeur said he would work to ensure the funds are used efficiently and transparently.” He said there is also a “real hunger for better communication and better access to information among all Melrose residents.”
Medeiros, who would be Melrose’s first popularly elected woman mayor, said she would develop a five-year financial plan and provide more “community engagement” in decision-making. The former Republican State Committee member has been endorsed by Governor Charlie Baker.
City Council President Robert F. Sullivan and Jimmy L. Pereira are contending for Brockton’s mayoral seat, which opened when Bill Carpenter died in July. Moises Rodrigues was appointed to complete Carpenter’s term.
Sullivan finished first in a seven-way preliminary, with 5,084 votes. Pereira, a community and transportation planner with the Old Colony Planning Council, received 3,321.
An attorney, Sullivan said he would work for a safer, cleaner, and inclusive Brockton by seeking private investment and state support to continue downtown revitalization, add police officers, and reduce class sizes in the schools.
Pereira, the son of Cape Verdean immigrants, would become the first person of color elected mayor in Brockton. He said he wants to “update our transportation infrastructure and promote economic vitality in all sectors of the city,” and “strengthen our community relations.”
Veteran Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy is being challenged by Councilor At-Large Diane LeBlanc. In a preliminary, McCarthy picked up 3,981 votes, with LeBlanc earning 2,052.
McCarthy, who has been mayor since 2004, said she wants to finish such initiatives as construction of a new Main Street bridge over Route 128, the city’s proposed acquisition of the University of Massachusetts Field Station, and building the new high school.
LeBlanc, a retired federal government executive, said she would institute “true citywide planning” to better control development; address traffic issues; improve streets and sidewalks; pursue state and federal grants; and advance the high school project.
In Braintree, Town Councilor Charles Kokoros and Electric Light Board chair Thomas Reynolds are vying to succeed retiring Mayor Joseph Sullivan. Kokoros, with 2,275 votes and Reynolds, with 2,025, advanced in the preliminary.
Kokoros, owner of Braintree Cleaners, said he would work to “preserve our small town character,” including by updating the master plan and opposing zoning measures that could lead to unwanted development. He would also seek major improvements to the high school building.
“My priority is to . . . find the money to support the public schools,” said Reynolds, Marshfield’s public works director. He would also update the master plan and seek zoning changes to help Braintree better control development by meeting its affordable housing requirements.
Four years after Brian Arrigo unseated Daniel Rizzo as Revere’s mayor, the two are competing in a rematch.
Rizzo, a city councilor, said by e-mail that as in his previous mayoral term, he would “listen to the people and focus on issues that better everybody’s quality of life.”
“I will focus on making Revere more livable by keeping it affordable, entice and encourage controlled and well-planned commercial development,” and seek resident input by creating a Revere Beach Advisory Board and neighborhood councils, he said.
Arrigo in an e-mail highlighted the progress he said the city has seen the last four years, from efforts to professionalize city government to initiating the process of building a new high school.
“And we’ve finally begun revitalizing Revere’s economy. After years of jobs fleeing the city … we’re seeing jobs come in, with mixed-use development set to bring in tens of millions of dollars worth of commercial tax revenue in the coming years,” he said.
Medford Mayor Stephanie M. Burke, who was first elected in 2016, is being challenged by City Councilor and local attorney Breanna Lungo-Koehn.
Burke said her tenure has brought such accomplishments as the current construction of a new police headquarters, the pending building of a new library, and ongoing revitalization of Chevalier Theatre.
“My priority in a third term is construction of a new fire headquarters and education,” she said. “We have a new superintendent and we want to give her the tools to succeed for the betterment of our children.”
Lungo-Koehn said that in response to “the overdevelopment of luxury apartments,” she wants Medford to plan instead for “purposeful development that fits within each neighborhood.”
To boost city revenues, she would have Medford bring its parking enforcement in-house once its contract expires with its existing parking firm. Another goal is expanding the commercial base to ease residential taxes.
In Methuen, City Council chair Jennifer Kannan and first-time candidate Neil P. Perry are competing to succeed retiring Mayor James P. Jajuga. Perry, an executive at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, finished first in a preliminary, receiving 2,610 votes to Kannan’s 1,215.
Saying residents “have lost faith in their city government,” Perry pledged that as mayor he would “act with transparently, with integrity,” making all decisions “with the best interest of the entire city at heart.” A priority would be seeking to renegotiate a controversial 2017 city contract with the police superior officers’ union to produce an agreement “good for both parties.”
Kannan said by e-mail, “Our city deserves a leader who understands the challenges we face and has the vision and experience to make our city the best it can be. On day one I’ll be ready to do a full review of all city departments to ensure we are spending our tax dollars wisely and to make the investments we need in our schools, parks, and ... public safety.”
Amesbury’s mayoral contest pits incumbent Ken Gray against political newcomer Kassandra Gove. Gove finished first in a preliminary, edging Gray by 847 votes to 802.
Gove, executive director of the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, said she wants to improve communications and increase transparency among city departments and with the public.
“We are seeing a spike in the attrition rate of students from the schools,” she added. “We need to [assess] why they are leaving and” target school funding to address the problems.
Gray said in his six-year tenure the city has made “wonderful progress on property taxes, economic development, the schools, and quality of life, and I’m asking people to reelect me so we can continue the progress.” He also wants to see completion of the Maples Crossing ice rink development, and construction of a planned new elementary school.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson is dueling with Ward 3 Councilor and former School Committee member John P. Matheson in his bid for a third four-year term.
Christenson said his tenure has brought such positives as completion of the City Hall redevelopment project, a historically high bond rating, and a drop in crime. He said he also brings such “intangibles” as being accessible and “working to make sure everyone is heard and feels welcome.”
“We have to find ways to keep Malden affordable ...We have to determine how much growth is right for our city now that people are looking to come here,” he said.
Matheson said his council tenure has emphasized planting trees and adding open space while also protecting his ward from dense apartment development, including at the Malden Hospital site.
Contending the city’s “massive apartment expansion” has brought higher costs to taxpayers, he said he would instead promote Malden “as the next thriving business hub of the Metro North,” helping to bring homeowners relief from trash and water and sewer fees.
In other contests, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is opposed by first-time candidate Marianne Walles, a social worker and union leader; Woburn Mayor Scott D. Galvin faces first-time candidate Elizabeth F. Pedrini, a real estate agent; and Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini is being challenged by Daniel Trocki, a Haverhill police officer.
Marlborough Mayor Arthur G. Vigeant faces political newcomer David J. Garceau. In a three-way preliminary, Vigeant received 1,451 votes, with Garceau, a longtime Marlborough police officer, collecting 666.
Garceau said he would work to build a new fire station in the city’s west end. He also wants the city to acquire land to preserve green space and meet future needs, reactivate two city reservoirs, and explore building more senior housing.
Vigeant said he is running to “finish up some projects we’ve started,” including improving roads, building a new elementary school, and building a new west side fire station. He would also work to address traffic issues.
Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch, meanwhile, is opposed by political newcomer Brenda Ryan, a community activist and former legislative aide, while Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund is being challenged by political newcomer Edward Cohen, a Marine Corps veteran.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.