Briefings: The Quickened Pace of the Running of Ballot Papers in Springfield…
UPDATED 9:51AM: For a correction. The Ward 8 Councilor is Zaida Govan, not Zaida Luna.
Less than a week ago, the Springfield Election Commission flung open its doors to candidates in a year with historic interest. Several have already submitted their filings with the city to run. Candidates have until June 6 to turn in signatures—500 for mayor and 100 for Council—but as of this posting nine could not wait that long to lock down real estate on Springfield’s ballot.
This is partly thanks to the historic interest in the mayor’s race where incumbent Domenic Sarno faces four announced challengers, three of whom hold elective office now. Two of them, Justin Hurst and Jesse Lederman are at-large city councilors, uncorking interest in his desirable citywide office. But even among the ward races, none of which are open at the moment, incumbents have been quick to have their signatures certified.
According to the Election Commission, Ward 4 Councilor Malo Brown, Ward 5 Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce and Ward 8 councilor Zaida Govan all produced enough signatures to run. If either face two or more challengers, their names will appear on the preliminary ballot. If not, they will automatically appear on the November ballot.
Matching these speedy incumbents was at-large councilor Tracye Whitfield. She will also appear before voters in the preliminary or general, depending on the number of at-large hopefuls.
However, newcomers and the mayoral aspirants have also been rushing the election office with their ballot papers.
State Rep Orlando Ramos became the first mayoral candidate the commission certified for the ballot on Tuesday.
“I want to thank my dedicated team of volunteers who joined me in collecting signatures over the last few days,” Ramos said in a statement. “I said from the very beginning that this campaign is all about hard work, and I don’t intend to let anyone outwork me between now and November.”
On Monday Hurst had announced he had submitted more than enough signatures to qualify. However, the Election Commission confirmed his certification on Wednesday.
“We are blown away by the enthusiasm that our volunteers and supporters showed throughout the signature collection process,” Hurst said in a press release. “It’s a testament to the fact that our message of bringing accountability, justice, and change to the City of Springfield is resonating with people from all different walks of life.”
Lederman, who was gathering signatures at his kickoff Wednesday, is expected to submit his papers in the next few days.
The Election Commission told WWLP that Sarno has submitted signatures but the office has not yet certified the mayor’s candidacy. Psychiatrist David Ciampi, who is also running, told WWLP he was still gathering signatures.
Practically speaking, these quick qualifications shall have little impact on the race. However, it is an opportunity to highlight support and generates a quick, easily digestible story for the press to report. This will be especially important for the challengers. They will be capitalizing on any free media available facing an incumbent who has essentially fashion himself the eternal mayor.
However, not only mayoral candidates were sprinting into the election office with fists full of signed papers.
As of Wednesday afternoon, three candidates aiming for the at-large race—and its two open slots—have also already qualified. This includes Thomas Oakley, a nonprofit leader who established a campaign committee earlier this month.
Also rushing to turn in signatures was Kim Rivera, who has recently worked as an aide to State Rep Bud Williams. She ran for the Ward 6 Council seat against then-councilor Ken Shea in 2015. Though Rivera’s campaign committee has since dissolved, she should be able to revive it quickly.
Drew Keaton El also turned in sufficient signatures, but has yet to file with state campaign finance officials.
Certification for the Council ballot will not get as much attention as qualified mayoral aspirants will receive. It may not be as necessary for some candidates like Oakley. He announced his campaign on February 7 and has received some press attention since.
Rather, the quick turnaround will relieve candidates of this task and let them turn to getting their name out. That will be manifestly more difficult than collecting 100 valid signatures, especially with the mayor’s race absorbing most of the attention.
Beyond the certified, 2021 candidate Jay Latorre has confirmed he is running. On Wednesday, former city councilor and election commissioner Brian Santaniello formed a campaign account for City Council.