Friday, March 25, 2011 • 5:33 PM Comments ()

Political Catch-all: Pepe, Coakley-Rivera and Redistricting

posted by Maureen Turner

Over at the Springfield Intruder, Bill Dusty reports that School Committee member Antonette Pepe is poised to announce that she’ll run for mayor this fall, joining a race that already includes incumbent Mayor Domenic Sarno and City Council President Jose Tosado. While Pepe is often relegated to the political fringe—she’s battled with Sarno, and is often treated by fellow School Committee members as if she has cooties—she’s also won many fans for her plainspokeness, her fearlessness and her refusal to bow in the face of political pressure.

Meanwhile, news that long-time state Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera is poised to be appointed to the plum job of clerk magistrate in Springfield District Court (reported here in a somewhat curious Republican article that makes it sound like she lives in a junkyard) has unleashed all kinds of speculation about who might succeed her as the 10th Hampden rep. Among the names in circulation: Carlos Gonzalez, president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce and Coakley-Rivera’s long-ago rival for the seat; Amaad Rivera, who recently became Ward 6’s city councilor after the mid-term resignation of Keith Wright; and Tom Walsh, spokesman for Sarno and a former intern in Coakley-Rivera’s office.

Finally, while Springfield officials heaved a collective sigh of relief about the recent news that the city’s population did not sink below 150,000—a crucial cut-off for certain types of government aid—in last year’s Census, there’s still some very bad news coming out of the Census: national population shifts mean Massachusetts is due to lose one of its ten Congressional seats through redistricting. And as my pal and fellow blogger Tom Devine has noted, you can bet that western Mass. is going to be the part of the commonwealth to take the hit.

Tomorrow, the legislative Joint Special Committee on Redistricting—co-chaired by Sen. Stan Rosenberg of Amherst—will hold a public hearing on the process, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Springfield’s Van Sickle Middle School, 1170 Carew St. It’s a chance for residents to speak up about their region’s needs before the new district lines are drawn up later this year for both state and federal seats. Among those scheduled to offer testimony is Andrea Nuciforo, former state senator and now register of deeds in Pittsfield, who has already announced plans to run for Congress in 2012. Nuciforo will make the case for two seats to remain in the western part of the state, and for one of those seats to be made up of small towns and cities, to best allow their common interests to be served.

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