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Special elections underway

It may still be the dead of winter, but a flurry of electoral activity is underway in three legislative districts north of Boston.

Due to a coincidental series of resignations by lawmakers, special elections have been called to fill three state House and Senate seats in the region. And with an abbreviated campaign season, candidates are in a scramble for votes.

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Four candidates are campaigning to fill the Fifth Middlesex Senate seat that Katherine M. Clark vacated after the Melrose Democrat was elected to the US House on Dec. 10.

There are also four contenders for the 16th Suffolk House seat after Revere Democrat Kathi-Anne Reinstein resigned effective Jan. 17 to become government affairs manager for Boston Beer Co. And three candidates are running for the Second Suffolk House seat that Chelsea Democrat Eugene O’Flaherty resigned effective Jan. 31 to become Boston’s top legal counsel.

In all three races, a primary has been set for March 4 and a special election April 1.

There may yet be one more special election. State Representative Steven M. Walsh, a Lynn Democrat, plans to resign his 11th Essex seat to become executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals. It will be up to the House to decide whether to call a special election.

In the Senate race, state Representatives Christopher G. Fallon of Malden and Jason M. Lewis of Winchester and former School Committee member Anthony V. Guardia of Wakefield are vying in a Democratic primary. The winner will face Melrose Republican Monica C. Medeiros, an alderwoman at large and former School Committee member.

In the Second Suffolk, three candidates are competing in a Democratic primary: former councilor at large Roy A. Avellaneda of Chelsea, and Christopher Remmes and Dan Ryan, both of Charlestown. There are no Republican candidates.

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Lewis, who is in his third term in the House, said, “I can bring the same strong progressive leadership for the district that Katherine Clark provided,” noting his endorsements by local elected leaders, statewide liberal groups, and 25 of his legislative colleagues.

Fallon, a practicing lawyer who is in his eighth term in the House, said he would bring “the same results that I humbly believe I’ve accomplished for the city of Malden over the 16 years, and that is the money that the state has brought in for public education and for local aid. I hope to be able to expand that record throughout the entire district.”

Guardia works as director of development for HomeStart, a nonprofit agency that works with the homeless, and has a law practice. He lost a bid for state representative in 2010.

“I bring experience both as a municipal official and as someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector,” said Guardia, who added he would focus on jobs, education, and senior care.

Medeiros, who works in home financing sales, said, “I offer an independent perspective from working on the municipal level,” noting that as an alderwoman, “I see the concerns firsthand . . . how the cuts we’ve made to local aid have really affected our municipal budget.’’

In the Second Suffolk, three candidates are competing in a Democratic primary: former councilor at large Roy A. Avellaneda of Chelsea, and Christopher Remmes and Dan Ryan, both of Charlestown. With no Republican candidates, the primary winner will be poised to claim the seat.

Avellaneda is a project manager with the state Department of Transportation and a self-employed real estate agent.

He formerly ran a coffee shop in Chelsea for three years.

“I have a unique perspective, having worked in both the private and public sectors,” he said. “I have 10 years of service to my community and a record I can run on.”

A real estate agent who spent 10 years in the merchant marine, Remmes is making his first bid for office. He said he is running as a “bold progressive leader.”

“I’ve been a veteran of many progressive campaigns in Charlestown. I’m openly gay and I’m running to make a difference,” he said.

Ryan has been an aide to US Representative Michael Capuano for 14 years, and is currently on a leave of absence.

He lost a close race for a Boston City Council seat in 2006.

He brings “vast experience and working in community nonprofits,” he said. “I’ve worked on all facets of issues that affect people’s lives daily.”

Three Democrats are competing in the 16th Suffolk primary: Joshua D. Monahan of Chelsea, and Revere residents Linda S. Rosa, a former city councilor and School Committee member, and RoseLee Vincent, who was a legislative aide to KathiAnne Reinstein and to her late father, William G. Reinstein, her predecessor in the House. The winner will face Republican Todd B. Taylor of Chelsea.

Monahan, newly licensed to practice law, previously worked as a special projects coordinator for Chelsea’s Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

The first-time candidate said he offers 10 years of local and regional government experience and his training as an advocate. “I’m going to bring that passion for advocacy to the communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Saugus.”

Rosa was an aide to former state senator Robert E. Travaglini, including during his years as Senate president, and later for state Senator Anthony W. Petruccelli. She now works as outreach education coordinator for Maura Doyle, clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

“I have experience in all levels of government,” said Rosa, who also worked in the office of Governor Edward J. King, who served from 1979 to 1983.

Vincent said her “25 years of experience in the very office I’m running for gives me an absolute advantage. . . . I know the issues right now, I know how to get the job done. I can hit the ground running from day one.” She also cited her extensive involvement in the community.

Taylor, a first-time candidate, owns a staffing company for the hospitality industry. He said his priorities would include bringing more economic development and jobs.

“I’m an alternative to the business as usual, the old same old-same old on Beacon Hill,” he said, promising to be “truly accountable and responsible to the people.”

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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