Browse By

Briefings: Survivor, Pioneer Valley Edition 2013…

Holyoke City Hall (WMassP&I)

Holyoke City Hall (WMassP&I)

Springfield City Hall (WMassP&I)

Springfield City Hall (WMassP&I)

With today’s results, the field is set for November in most of Western Massachusetts’s biggest cities.  Holyoke’s mayoral contest is set.  That city’s Ward 4 race was more or less over before voting began as one of the three candidates running had disclaimed interest in the race.  In Springfield, there were even fewer surprises  in Wards 1 and 5.

First Springfield ward races offer somewhat of a window as to what the first non-mayoral Council election will look like.  Or not.  Turnout was so hilariously low in Ward 5, defying our assumptions, that it is statistically useless.  However, Ward 1 may be a bit instructive.  Turnout there was about 7%, about a quarter less than what has historically been turnout in preliminaries there.

In 2009, there was no preliminary for the ward seat, but there was also no mayoral or at-large preliminary.  In 2011, there was no ward race, but there was a hotly contested mayoral preliminary and a council preliminary.  Of course, that race also featured a Latino originally from the neighborhood, Jose Tosado.  Still, turnout that year in Ward 1 was about 10%.  It then leapt to about 16-17%.

Therefore, we could be looking at about 10-15% turnout in Springfield.  However, that number could go up if the media actually began covering the race and alerted the public to its choices.

Councilor Zaida Luna (WMassP&I)

Jose Claudio (via Facebook)

In any event, the results in Ward 1 were not terribly surprising.  Jose Claudio, Chief Operating Officer of the New North Citizens Council, beat out incumbent Zaida Luna for the top spot 42 to 38%.  Both will face off in November.  Stephen Daly, a downtown resident and school department employee won 12% while Brightwood resident and Brightwood Development Corp. head Miguel Rivas only got 8%.

While it is not a great sign that Luna got second place, it is hardly a death knell for her.  With still a fairly small universe of voters to persuade, there is plenty of time to turn the tables if she takes the right steps.  It is worth noting that in 2009, four candidates that placed second in the preliminary, 3 for council seats and 1 school committee seat, would go on to win their races.

At the same time, Claudio still has the larger floor on which to build on the way to 50%.  He has no shortage of establishment support and he can probably raise decent, if not princely, sums to fund his campaign.

Clodo Concepcion, (WMassP&I)

Clodo Concepcion, (WMassP&I)

The Ward 5 Council race was something of a surprise.  That Clodo Concepcion trounced his opposition is not really shocking.  Rather, it is the success of Michael Belanger in moving on to November.  Belanger’s campaign has seemingly consisted of only signs and a press release, which garnered a Masslive story written by Pete Goonan.  Kyle Burns, who came in a third, was eliminated.

Burns loss and Belanger’s win was a bit of a shock because Burns had engaged both the media and the voters on a level that even Concepcion had not.  Burns bought Facebook ads and attempted to engage the media, if not in a way to keep the cat-like attention span of too many in media.

Unlike Luna in Ward 1, Belanger has a lot of ground to make up against an incumbent who is largely liked in Ward 5 if not always in City Hall.

Mayor Alex Morse (via

Jeff Stanek (via Facebook)

Up Interstate 91 in Holyoke, voters who want to end the Morse mayoralty did what they had to do in order to make that a reality.  They rallied behind one candidate.  That candidate was Jeff Stanek.  From 35,000 feet, Stanek did nothing that would have indicated this, but closer observers of city politics may see something that left no other candidate with more than a single digit share of the vote.  Alex Morse got a solid 45% of the vote, but Stanek was pretty close with 42%.

That said, Daniel Boyle and Jim Santiago never appeared to take off.  Boyle already had perennial candidate status and Santiago’s malleable roots in the community probably did not endear him much to voters.  Daniel Szostkiewicz had been criticized in some circles for having a bunker mentality in this campaign, but that is the only indication of his weakness.  Still for a former mayor to have such a low return is a shocking result.

The losers’ campaigns are over, but for the winners, the reward is seven more weeks of work.