Today is Election Day in Massachusetts cities with contests for mayor in Methuen and Lawrence as well as council and school committee races in those communities and Haverhill.
It is important to get out and vote. These local contests arguably have a greater impact on people’s daily lives than statewide or national races. These elections will place into office the people who will determine your local property tax rates, make decisions affecting the quality of your children’s education and decide who runs your police, fire and school departments.
In Methuen, incumbent Mayor Stephen Zanni is facing a challenge from City Councilor Jennifer Kannan. The Eagle-Tribune has endorsed Zanni for his record of professional leadership in Methuen.
In Lawrence, incumbent William Lantigua faces City Councilor Daniel Rivera for the mayor’s office. We have endorsed Rivera for the professional leadership we believe he would bring to Lawrence and to bring an end to the plague of scandal inflicted on the city by the Lantigua administration.
In Haverhill, Mayor James Fiorentini is unopposed on the ballot. But a city firefighter, Tyler Kimball, is mounting a write-in campaign for the mayor’ office.
In Lawrence, much attention will be paid to the integrity of the election process after years of accusations of fraud and other electoral shenanigans. At the Sept. 17 preliminary election, an observer from the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office reported what he described as “overall chaos” at polling places.
Election observer Ramon Trinidad reported seeing city poll workers pencil in the names of unregistered people to the voting list and then hand them ballots. Trinidad also said poll workers examined completed ballots and allowed candidates to roam freely around polling places.
Beyond Trinidad’s report, a poll worker reported that a Lantigua volunteer escorted a voter into the building and then took his ballot into a voting booth and tried to mark it while the voter stood aside.
“I told him he had to stop and let the voter vote,” District B2 warden Janice Aneskevich told our reporter. She said the man left the polling place but continued to distribute replicas of ballots marked for Lantigua to voters as they headed in.
Today, observers from the Secretary of State’s office will be on hand to monitor the election. Common Cause plans to send 25 observers and mayoral challenger Rivera will have a team of lawyers at the ready to counter any electoral improprieties.
“We’re going to be all over (Lantigua) all day to ensure that the things he thinks he has free will to do, he just can’t do anymore,” Rivera said, referring to what he said is Lantigua’s undue influence at city polling places. “He preys on people who are afraid of him. We’re not afraid of him.”
But as Rivera noted in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune’s editorial board, the best way to counter electoral shenanigans is to simply get out and vote. Getting more properly registered people out to vote decreases the significance of any cheating or improper votes.
“The more important thing is to make sure people come out to vote,” Rivera said.
We encourage all those who are legally able to vote to get out and cast their ballots. It is your civic duty, and your legal right.