By Dyke Hendrickson STAFF WRITER
---- — HAVERHILL - Newburyport Democrat Kathleen O’Connor Ives won the state senate seat for the First Essex District with a convincing win over Republican Shaun Toohey of Haverhill, and independents James Kelcourse of Amesbury and Paul Magliocchetti of Haverhill in yesterday’s election.
Incomplete returns showed O’Connor Ives with 26,642 votes, Toohey with 17,402, Kelcourse with 3,019 and Magliocchetti with 2,747.
In Haverhill, O’Connor Ives tallied 9,481 votes, just ahead of Toohey’s 9,025 and Magliocchetti’s 7,292. Kelcourse finished a distant fourth with 318 votes. A total of 27,723 voters cast a ballot in Haverhill, where all but Kelcourse held their post-election gatherings at local restaurants.
”This is a great victory for everyone here as well as for me,” said O’Connor Ives, a three-term city councilor from Newburyport upon accepting victory. “We are going to continue to work for more health care, better higher education and affordable education.
”It was a long campaign with a lot of knocking on doors. You have been with me every step of the way, and we will be together in working for a better Merrimack Valley.”
Neither Toohey nor Magliocchetti could be reached for comment last night.
Close to 200 supporters filled DiBurro’s function hall in Haverhill, and it wasn’t until 9:35 p.m. that a cautious O’Connor Ives accepted victory after concession phone calls from opponents.
In an interview after her speech, she said, “One big challenge in the race was getting to know the western part of the district, and meeting the people there.
”Also, there was a short window of time to get ready for the primary, and then another short time to the final election.
”But my supporters were fully behind me, and did a great deal of work. Everyone worked hard and the result was this great victory. This is so exciting.”
O’Connor Ives is 35, and she was about the youngest person in the room.
State Rep. Mike Costello, who introduced her at the podium, said, “This is a great moment for the Merrimack Valley. She is from a small city but she energized Newburport and voters across the district.
”She will be a great senator at the state level.”
O’Connor Ives outspent Toohey down the homestretch $32,000 to $25,000 in the final two months of the campaign. Magliocchetti spent about $8,000 over the same span and Kelcourse about $3,600.
Toohey, the Republican nominee, is in his ninth year on the Haverhill School Committee and serves on the Whittier Regional
Vocational School Committee; Magliocchetti is a first-term Haverhill School Committee member; and Kelcourse is in his second term on the Amesbury City Council.
The district includes Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, Merrimac, Haverhill, Methuen, and about half of North Andover.
This is the first open race for the seat in a decade. The former senator, Methuen Democrat Steve Baddour, resigned earlier this year to take a job with a private law firm.