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Briefings: Sudden Springfield Aspirant Surge Ensures Mayoral Preliminary…

UPDATED 6/1/19 12:01AM: Since this posting went live, Yolanda Cancel has been certified for the mayoral ballot.


A mayoral race in Springfield has arisen. (WMassP&I)

Four days after pulling papers, Linda Matys O’Connell, a journalist, activist and former League of Women Voters official, has made the ballot. Her certification for Springfield’s autumn mayoral contest formally triggers a preliminary for the city’s top job. But, as with other late entrants, the mad dash to collect signatures now turns to the formation of a campaign to take on Mayor Domenic Sarno.

O’Connell was one of two women to make an eleventh-hour decision to run for mayor. However, as of posting time, Yolanda Cancel, a community and political activists in the city, was still awaiting certification of her signatures. Like O’Connell, she reported sufficient signatures on social media. If the city Board of Elections concurs, both woman have the chance to transform an electoral foregone conclusion in a real race. The Board announced O’Connell’s certification on its Facebook page.

In addition to Sarno and O’Connell, Jeffery Donnelly, who has run for multiple offices in the past, will appear on the mayoral line on September 10. Cancel and Michael Jones, the city Republican Chair who ran for mayor in 2015, could join them.

Regardless of the exact make up of the preliminary, the challengers’ prime directive will be the survive. There is precedent for an incumbent mayors imploding in the preliminary. When Mayor Robert Markel was culled from the general election in 1995, he was facing then-Councilor Michael Albano and former mayor Charles Ryan. Whatever the strength of Sarno’s opponents this year, the parallels to 1995 are imperfect.

Council chambers

Preliminaries abound here, too. (WMassP&I)

Additionally, The Republican reported that enough candidates for at-large councilor and Ward 4 councilor have turned in signatures to prompt preliminaries for those races as well. There are contested races for Ward 5 and 6, but it does not appear more than 2 candidates were certified. Thus, those races shall not require primaries. The incumbents in Ward 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8 face no opponent at all.

The most immediate step for candidates will be forming committees with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance.  All mayoral and council candidates in the city must file spending and fundraising reports twice monthly with OCPF.

Among mayoral candidates, Jones already had a campaign account, having run for various offices over the years. Both Cancel, who ran for City Council in 2015, and Donnelly had accounts, too. However, as of posing time, only Cancel had notified OCPF of her intent to reactivate her committee. O’Connell has yet to file, but her campaign committee’s formation is likely imminent.