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Click-Bruce & Collins Advance in Suddenly Wild Ward 5 Springfield Special…

Ward 5 Springfield

Ward 5, in green, looks September-ward. We’ll see. (via Springfield City Hall)

SPRINGFIELD—The first special election for City Council here since at least the current charter took effect in 1961 has concluded amid last minute energy and intrigue. Mayoral aide Lavar Click-Bruce, riding on support in and around Pine Point placed 1st in the special preliminary for Ward 5’s Council seat. Not far behind was retired labor leader Ed Collins, who posted strong results in 16 Acres.

The first phase of the unexpected election following Marcus Williams’s shock resignation in June unleashed a stampede of candidates. Not only were there a lot of candidates, but they were waging serious bids. That made the last-minute introduction of a wave of robocalls bashing one candidate and lifting another all the stranger.

“First of all, I’m just thankful for my family for supporting me and for the city of Springfield,” Click-Bruce said in an interview.

Ward 5 lies north and east of Watershops Pond (aka Lake Massasoit). It encompasses parts of Pine Point and much 16 Acres, except areas between Plumtree and Wilbraham roads.

All results are unofficial, but the city’s Election Commission said 1424 ballots were cast, not quite 10% turnout. Yet, even that beat some early abysmal expectations.

Lavar Click

Lavar Click-Bruce advances. (via LinkedIn)

Click-Bruce placed scored 385 votes across the ward with particularly strength in the Pine Point and Upper Hill extremities in the district. He acknowledged that Collins did better in the Acres and said he would be targeting that region in the general.

His campaign will be “getting into those areas that we didn’t do so well and concentrating on those areas.”

Click-Bruce said he would be hitting doors and relying less on mailers or phone calls to reach that part of the ward. Nor would he take for granted his first place finish.

“Being a former athlete and a competitor, you always want to put your all into it,” he said. “I’m a confident young man and I worked hard and not stopping whatsoever.”

Collins, who won 316 votes, said he would be looking at changing tactics ahead of the general, moving more to tactics that “need more manpower.”

“We have to concentrate on Pine Point and the Upper Hill as well,” he said. I’m not ceding anything to an opponent, but certainly Pine Point has to be big areas of concentration.”

Ed Collins

Ed Collins, too, looks ahead to September. (via Facebook/Collins)

Collins observed that several candidate who had support in those neighborhoods who are no longer in the race. He would not assume where they votes would go.

The results did not come as a total shock. Click-Bruce had the support of Mayor Domenic Sarno and Collins had a lot of good will from years in the labor movement. Collins also had money left over from his 2014 bid for state rep and thousands more raised that went into mailers.

With summer in full swing, many civic association were on their seasonal hiatus. There were limited public events and the only debate was on the city’s public access channel, Focus Springfield. Still, it was a largely positive affair. Indeed, the race’s weirdest turn somewhat underscored the respect that had developed across the field.

In the last days of the race, a series of robocalls upended the upbeat vibe. The first bashed Ellen Moorhouse as “left-wing” and “anti-police,” descriptors that confused her supporters and rivals. Following that was two robocalls boosting LaMar Cook. One even called Cook the candidate for conservatives and Republicans. Cook is a registered Democrat. Moorhouse is unenrolled. Several candidates, including Collins, condemned the robocalls as dirty plays that poorly served voters.

Ultimately, it is unlikely that the robocalls made much of a difference. Cook earned 104 votes, placing 6th. Moorhouse earned 225, enough to place third but too far behind Collins for the calls to have changed the outcome.

At her election night party, Moorhouse was thankful for the support she received and urged her supporters to vote in September 13 general.

“But we did it for the city, right? We came out for each other,” she said in her remarks to supporters. After she finished, they sang Happy Birthday to her. She turned 33 on Tuesday.

The number that made the robocalls is associated with Paul Ferro, the chair of the Marlborough Republican City Committee. He did not respond to a request for comment. However, the MRCC has engaged in political campaigns far afield from their home city before. During some of the more tempestuous periods in the state GOP’s history, the MRCC has acted as a surrogate state apparatus, feeding money to support conservatives and Republicans elsewhere.

What Ferro’s interest in Ward 5 is only the stuff of speculation. Whatever the motives, it is hard to see how they fit with the results unless some multidimensional chess is at play. Collins is a well-known labor activist who has backed Bernie Sanders and Click-Bruce, through family and career, has ties to Springfield’s Democratic establishment.