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Briefings: Hurst Survives Busy Springfield Prelim to Battle Sarno in November…

Springfield City Hall

The battle goes on. (WMP&I)

SPRINGFIELD—The mayoral preliminary arrived here at last with incumbent mayor Domenic Sarno and at-large City Council Justin Hurst advancing the November general election. The result with Sarno comfortably ahead with Hurst State Rep Orlando Ramos and Council President Jesse Lederman behind in that order fit a lot of elite consensus on the race.

However, there were notable deviations from what many had expected. Despite spending a massive sum for a Springfield election, Sarno only eked out 48% of the vote. His strength lay in parts of the city where residents either do not experience the city’s struggles or are indifferent or unaware of his lawlessness. But this was not a majority.

“We feel good,” Hurst said in an interview outside his victory party. “I’m more excited for the volunteers who worked tirelessly on the campaign and really gave it their heart and sou. They believed in the vision and brought it to fruition.”

The Republican reported that Sarno was late to his victory party due to a water main break. Never missing a beat to appear to be mayoring, he said he would keep campaigning but had ensure residents were “safe and sound.”

“I love my job but it is about living it 24-7,” he said, per the paper.

Although still abysmal, turnout was twice what it has been in in the last two preliminaries in 2015 and 2019. On a percentage basis, Tuesday’s 13.6% turnout was less than 2011’s 14.1%. That year, Sarno faced then-Council President Jose Tosado and School Committee member Antonette Pepe. However, there are 17,000 more voters today and the 14,966 who showed up exceed the 13,820 who voted in 2011.

If the turnout increases this November as it did between the 2011 preliminary and general, at least another 5,000 more residents could vote. As less likely voters, they could tilt away from Sarno. This could present a problem for Sarno, but it hardly puts Hurst on any glidepath either.

The Council races did not surprise dramatically. The at-large incumbents seeking reelection, Kateri Walsh, Tracye Whitfield and Sean Curran all easily won one of the 10 spots for the November ballot. Surging into fourth place was Brian Santaniello, a former city councilor-turned Election Commission director. Behind him was state public safety department engagement director and one-time mayoral and gubernatorial aide Jose Delgado

Gerry Martin, a newcomer who placed sixth, nevertheless overperformed in some high turnout precinct, even exceeding the incumbents. Academic program director Nicole Coakley, who ran in last year’s special Ward 5 elecion, placed seventh, followed by Will Naylor and Juan Caraballo, who ran in 2021. Another 2021 also-ran, Juan “Jay” Latorre held the 10th spot by 12 votes according to City Hall sources. The 11th place finisher, Ed Nunez, could ask for a recount.

The only other race on the ballot was in Ward 6. Incumbent councilor Victor Davila comfortably survived his preliminary against Shanequa Fryar and Humberto Caro. Caro was eliminated while Fryar will take on Davila in November.