UPDATED 1/11/24 11:41AM for additional information:
The mayoral race in Springfield may be long over and the victors have taken the oath. That, however, does not mean the work of campaign finance regulators have finished their work. Rather, several issues with Mayor Domenic Sarno’s campaign records had remained outstanding per auditors with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance.
The election dominated 2023 in Springfield in a way that elections rarely have. Only the rise of ward representation stands as a fair comparison. But while 2009, as an election year, changed Springfield, 2023 revealed and not necessarily in ways that should flatter the city.
On the state and national levels, there was impact on the city. Yet, it was somewhat less when compared to other years.
At 28, that means Jesse Lederman has been active in city politics since he was a teenager. That makes his exit after three terms notable less because he was leaving so soon, but that the Council was not even his first act. By his 2017 election, Lederman had already run once, worked on several campaigns and become a prominent figure in Springfield environmental activism battling the biomass plant.
SPRINGFIELD—After an undernoted campaign that turned caustic and accusatory in its dying days, Mayor Domenic Sarno triumphed over at-large City Councilor Justin Hurst by a 15-point margin. This was a race many had foresaw ever since Hurst, whom Sarno once endorsed, began to tilt away from the city’s longest-serving mayor. But the challenge came later than some wanted and thus without backing he would need to win.
Fortune put the date of the 2023 election on the second-latest possible date. That allowed time for one more round of campaign finance reports in the Springfield mayoral race. In October Mayor Domenic Sarno outraised his rival, at-large Councilor Justin Hurst, reversing a lag from the prior months.
With the Springfield mayoral race a hot mess and the at-large Council an huge large field of qualified hopefuls, the ward races offer a calm respite. The incumbents in both Ward 4 and 6 face challengers. In Ward 4 on Tuesday, incumbent Malo Brown will face off against Kareem Kibodya, a former policy and political staffer.
The allegations of vote-buying occurring right outside Springfield City Hall have dropped a hand grenade into a historic but quiet municipal election. It has set off a wave of condemnation, conspiracies and snickering across Springfield and within its political class.
The SuperPAC homecare mogul Cesar Ruiz funded took a prominent role in municipal preliminaries. The Hispanic Latino Leaders Now Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee (HLLN) filed a new report with state campaign finance regulators that shows it is spending to support a clutch of City Council candidates.
With his mayoral campaign in mortal danger, Springfield at-large Councilor Justin Hurst held a defiant press conference Thursday morning, vigorously denying his campaign engaged in vote-buying. The allegations, which are reportedly now before federal and state investigators, arose after early-voters swamped Election Commission staff Saturday.
As the Springfield 2023 cycle meanders to conclusion, only a few candidates appear to be dominating the air war. Several at-large City Council candidates, including several who advertised during the preliminary, have also bought ad time. In the mayor’s race, however, the incumbent, Domenic Sarno, largely has the air to himself as October concludes.