METHUEN — The closest mayoral election in city history saw Stephen Zanni declare a 28-vote victory last night over Al DiNuccio, who promised to call for a recount today.
Zanni edged DiNuccio 4,439 votes to 4,411, taking 49.9 percent of the vote compared to DiNuccio’s 49.6 percent. Voter turnout in yesterday’s municipal election was 31 percent.
“It’s a close win,” said Zanni last night outside the Merrimack Valley Golf Club on Howe Street. “But now I think it’s important that I prove myself to the people.”
DiNuccio and his supporters were shocked by the results.
“Obviously, because it’s so close, we’re a little dumbfounded,” said DiNuccio. “Not as long as I’ve been in Methuen have I ever seen a race this close.”
DiNuccio said he will call for a recount today after consulting with City Clerk Christine Touma-Conway and the state voting commissioner.
“Whatever the process is, we’ll make a recount happen,” said DiNuccio. “We can’t concede when it’s this close.”
Residents cast 8,977 ballots yesterday. There were 29 write-in votes submitted in the race for mayor and 98 uncast votes — which DiNuccio said should prove vital in a recount.
“I only need 29 votes,” said DiNuccio. “We’re feeling pretty optimistic about this.”
Zanni is no stranger to recounts. In 2005, he beat Joyce Campagnone by six votes in the race for city councilor-at-large and prevailed after she called for a recount.
Zanni said his win over DiNuccio will stand up given the accuracy of electronic voting.
Zanni said he will represent all Methuen citizens, including those who backed his opponent.
“You can have differences, but eventually you try to work together,” said Zanni. “I’m here for the entire city.”
Zanni is serving his third consecutive two-year term as councilor-at-large. He also served two years on the School Committee and four years as a West District councilor in the 1990s.
“I know the ins and outs of local government,” said Zanni.
Several voters interviewed yesterday outside the polls also pointed to Zanni’s experience.
“He’s been around a while,” said Bernard O’Neil. “He’s done a lot of good.”
Others who cast ballots for Zanni said they were concerned DiNuccio would privatize the city ambulance service if elected. Methuen firefighters mobilized on the issue, attacking DiNuccio after he said he would perform a cost and efficiency analysis on all departments.
“I’m not a fan of having firefighters lose their jobs,” said Matt Twomey. “I don’t think they need to change it.”
Many DiNuccio supporters interviewed said they wanted change in the mayor’s office.
“New blood,” said Tom Donahue when asked why he voted for DiNuccio.
“A different face,” said Sid Harris. “It’s going to be a new perspective.”
Others felt DiNuccio lacked experience. DiNuccio was making his second run for Methuen mayor, but has never held elected office.
“I think you’ve got to cut your teeth in this town before you do something like that,” said Alan McLennan.
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