Browse By

Our Top Fourteen Stories of 2014 (and Runners-up)…

Political Campaigns in Hampden County dominated our coverage this year. (via

What were WMassP&I most popular stories of 2014? There was certainly no shortage of news in this jam-packed election cycle. From titanic statewide contests to down to the wire local primaries, this year may be remembered as one of the most critical in state and local politics. No fewer than seven competitive races (either in the primary, general or both)—plus a special election for the State House—captured the region’s attention.

Analyzing our data from our friends at Google, we have compiled the top fourteen stories from 2014 based on page views. Similar stories in sequential spots have been lumped together to get in as many top reads as possible. We have excluded the home page (obviously the most viewed), categories and tags, and our standing pages such as the political guide, election guide and “about us” page. Additional details of the data used available upon request! Data runs through 12/30.

Mt. Tom in Holyoke with LGBT pride flag (created w/ images from wikipedia)

Mt. Tom in Holyoke with LGBT pride flag (created w/ images from wikipedia)

1. Though he did not win and received his share of criticism, Shawn Allyn’s run for district attorney prompted a lot of attention, particularly early on. While the Pioneer Valley had its share of LGBT elected officials before, Allyn chose to get it out there before it might get used against him in a whisper campaign. As it was, his sexuality was of virtually no consequence to the race, but it did prompt us to investigate LGBT political progress in the Pioneer Valley back in April. Relatedly, our profile of Allyn also attracted a large share of views on its own. We feel obligated to note our analytics suggest there was advertising for one or both of these stories performed by a third party, separate from the ads we do for all of our posts. Whether than influenced ranking is difficult to discern.

Rep. John Velis (via wikipedia/Velis campaign)

2. The Battle for Westfield’s open House seat and Democrat John Velis’ win there broke a decades-long streak of Republican holds despite that city’s somewhat purplish hue. However, it was the story about Republican Dan Allie’s fraught relationship with the state party that narrowly edged out another story from this race. Close behind, however, was our analysis of how Velis was able to flip this seat and provide Democrats—even nationwide—with a tiny bit of hope in what promised and turned out to be a dim year.

Judge Mark Mastroianni (via wikipedia)

Judge Mark Mastroianni (via wikipedia)

3. Back to the district attorney’s race, as the Senate sat on its hands, so did the candidates. Everybody knew incumbent District Attorney Mark Mastroianni was not running, but nobody wanted to campaign openly out of respect for him. Eventually, they had to, but not before a long period in which candidates limited their politicking to behind the scenes. Mastroianni was eventually confirmed in the spring and formally installed at a ceremony attended by US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

Fmr Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera (via Facebook)

4. We were among the first to break details of Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera’s resignation and look at candidates to replace her and as a result, our post caught local and statewide attention. Her departure and concurrent opening of her seat precipitated one of the more boisterous contests during this cycle’s primary and ushered in a major changing of the guard in Springfield’s House delegation.

5. Once the race the DA began it was an all-out free-for-all. However, in encounter after encounter, it seemed the four Democrats running for the job differed more on style and resumes than disagreeing on policy. Our write up of the debate at STCC’s Scibelli Hall encapsulated that dynamic and apparently the public ate it up.

Eric Lesser on primary night (WMassP&I)

Eric Lesser on primary night (WMassP&I)

6. With friends and family across the country cheering him on, it is not surprise that an Eric Lesser story made the list (but 6th?) The category, not qualifying for the list itself, for the race itself was the most popular this year. The race for the 1st Hampden & Hampshire Senate race was hotly contested because it was open, but Lesser brought it to the next level. Appropriately, however, our post about how a candidate from Obamaworld emphasized the very things that propelled the president to the White House was Lesser’s first appearance on our top stories for 2014.

Chip Harrington taking his campaign to Belchertown last summer. (WMassP&I)

7. Our next top story, also from the Democrat primary for the 1st Hampden & Hampshire senate race, concerned Ludlow School Committee member Chip Harrington’s drive to reach out beyond the base he shared with fellow Ludlowite Aaron Saunders. While he came up short, his aggressive push outside his hometown became one of the big wildcards in the primary.

8. There was clearly a market for details of the Hampden District Attorney’s race because coming in at number 7 was our profile of Brett Vottero, the 2010 DA aspirant who came in fourth. This time around, Vottero still did not win the nomination, but did far better, placing second. But readers wanted to hear what he had to say in any event. For reasons passing understanding, our post on Anthony Gulluni ranked lower, but as the next Hampden District Attorney, let’s reup his profile, too.

Candy Glazer with Lesser  Saul Finestone (via Twitter/@EricLesser)

Glazer with Lesser & Saul Finestone (via Twitter/@EricLesser)

9. A later entry in our huge political year was our profile of Candy Glazer, the chair of the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee, who has led that town’s Democrats to a position of relevance and power despite shifts in how campaigns are won. A state party committeewoman and a 2012 presidential electoral college elector, Glazer has been at the forefront of countless campaigns. Only the latest was Lesser’s campaign, a win that burnished the respect Glazer has earned statewide and nationally.

Fmr. Dep. Chief Robert McFarlin (via Springfield PD)

Fmr. Dep. Chief Robert McFarlin (via Springfield PD)

10. Practically forgotten now after more than half of year with John Babieri heading Springfield’s finest, but for a time early this year most thought former Deputy Chief Robert McFarlin was poised to lead the police department. Almost everybody in the city seemed convinced Mayor Sarno was prepped to appoint McFarlin. That sent ripples (or chills) throughout swaths of the city. Our profile of the man who might have been commissioner is number ten of 2014.

11. Sorry Buddy. Maybe if Bud Williams had invoked Christ at Rosh Hashanah, there would have been time to get more pageviews, but considering Hanukkah began only two weeks before the end of the year, placing 11th ain’t bad. Relatedly, but not a qualifying page, WMassP&I’s political guide for city councilors placed just ahead of this story. Bud Williams’s own WMassP&I page ranked a bit lower.

Michael Clark on a rampage, er touring Boston. (Image via wikipedia & Facebook)

Michael Clark on a rampage, er, touring Boston. (Image via wikipedia & Facebook)

12. Also in Lesser land was our profile of Michael Clark. Among the few WMassP&I has profiled twice, when we left Clark, he was victorious at the 2013 Town Meeting. Now we see him terrorizing the City of Boston following Eric Lesser to the State House as a top aide in the latter’s senate office. Our look at his role in the campaign and where he’s headed made number 11.

13. The election is when, you say? Three years? It was still enough to gin up interest in Nick Cocchi’s bid for Sheriff. A well-orchestrated kickoff and media blitz—WMassP&I included—started off the 2016 race for Hampden County Sheriff, from which Michael Ashe is retiring. In our profile, however, we also found where Cocchi wants to build off of his boss’s legacy.

(via Facebook/Save Cathedral High)

14. Our analysis of the fate of Cathedral High School closes out our list. After the new bishop put the brakes on rebuilding the storied high school on Surrey Road in Springfield, the community of parents, students and alumni sprung to action. However, unlike the typical political campaign, there is only one vote that counts: his excellency’s.

Honorable Mentions

Our editorial in contention, but not quite a winner was our assessment of the situation following the State Ballot Law Commission ruled that Eric Lesser could be on the ballot. There really is not much to add to it at this point, but that our only direct take on the list is on the senate race says something (although it may say something else that our editorials on municipal matters get less attention).

Our analysis of Kevin Jourdain’s political posture, namely his decision to step down from a guaranteed at-large seat and thwart Mark Riffenburg run for the open Ward 6 got the attention of Holyokers in particular.

Mike Firestone and Healey embrace on primary night. (via Youtube/Healey campaign)

Mike Firestone and Healey embrace on primary night. (via Youtube/Healey campaign)

Not surprisingly our biggest story of statewide salience was a recipe: how to go from zero name recognition to attorney general-elect. A main ingredient was Mike Firestone, Maura Healey’s campaign manager, profiled back in October. Long a New England area campaign hand specializing in Field Organizing, Healey’s was the first campaign Firestone managed.