Well, for a ostensibly quiet election season—no mayoral race; uncontested races in a number of wards—things turned out to be fairly hot at the polls yesterday, didn’t they?
The final body count: two incumbent city councilors and two incumbent School Committee members tossed out of office.
On the Council side, it was Council President Jimmy Ferrera and Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak who were shown to the door. Ferrera’s loss was the less surprising; he’s had a bumpy term, marked by bad blood with some of his fellow councilors and charges of grandstanding on the Council floor. He’ll be replaced as one of the Council’s five at-large councilors by newcomer Justin Hurst, who scored an impressive first-place finish in that race. (Meanwhile, Hurst’s wife, Denise, retained her seat on the School Committee, setting the pair up as a sort of second-generation Springfield power couple, in the mode of Justin’s parents, former School Committee member Marj Hurst and Rick Hurst, a one-time mayoral candidate and former member of the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination.)
Lysak was picked off by Orlando Ramos, who was challenging him for a third—and, apparently, charmed—time. Ramos’ victory could be chalked up to a mix of his persistence and campaign support and Lysak’s own missteps, like buddying up with the toxic former Mayor Mike Albano and running afoul of campaign finance laws.
On the School Committee, incumbent Norman Roldan of District 1 was ousted by newcomer Rosa Perez, and at-large member Antonette Pepe lost her seat Calvin McFadden. Pepe was a polarizing figure—you either loved her or, well, not so much—who ticked off plenty of people in the city’s political establishment with her no-holds-barred campaign against Mayor Domenic Sarno in 2011. But with no disrespect to McFadden, who seems like a promising addition to the School Committee, I will miss Pepe, who’s fearless and committed and honest as the day is long.
And I hope to see more of two young candidates who didn't make it on to the Council this year: Ernesto Cruz, a progressive who lost some valuable time when he put his campaign on hold to work for Ed Markey's senatorial campaign, and Sal Circosta, who had the bad luck of running against a popular and solid incumbent, Melvin Edwards, in Ward 3. (My favorite moment of the Circosta campaign: the candidate checking in, via Foursquare, at mass on Election Day.)
Finally, could there be one more upset in the making? Pete Goonan reports today that Jose Claudio, who lost the Ward 1 Council race to incumbent Zaida Luna by a mere eight votes, plans to request a recount.