Ballots set for mid-winter House special elections

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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 20, 2016….The Feb. 2 Democratic primary, which is less than two weeks away, will become the main event in one of the three special House elections this winter.

February primaries and March 1 general elections are scheduled in the districts covering Fitchburg, Brockton and Peabody, to fill the seats of representatives who recently stepped down.

Leah Cole resigned her seat, representing most of Peabody, in September to focus on her nursing career. November’s elections yielded new posts for two other representatives, Stephen DiNatale of Fitchburg and Michael Brady of Brockton. DiNatale is now the mayor of Fitchburg, and Brady holds the 2nd Plymouth and Bristol Senate seat.

The three contenders vying to succeed Brady are all Democrats, with no Republicans, unenrolled or third-party candidates on the ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In Fitchburg, three Democrats will face off in the primary, with a city councilor mounting a write-in primary bid on the Republican side.

Peabody’s primary day will feature both Republican and Democratic primaries, the winners of which will also face an unenrolled candidate in March.

The Republican race is between Stephanie Peach, Cole’s legislative aide, and Jaclyn Corriveau, who worked as campaign manager to Peabody City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin.

Peach has said she is seeking the seat to continue the work she started as an aide and help constituents navigate state government. Her priorities include welfare reform, lower taxes and increased local aid.

Corriveau, in a recent interview on the Michele McPhee Show, said her main priority would be “keeping track of tax dollars,” She has also pledged to fight for local aid and says she will oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.

On the Democratic side, at-large city councilor and former Rep. Thomas Walsh squares off against Ward 3 Councilor James Moutsoulas and Craig Welton.

Walsh held the seat from 1987 to 1995 and has also served on Peabody’s School Committee. His campaign goals include protecting services for seniors and veterans, and securing state funds for the city’s economic development, infrastructure and job creation.

Welton, the state director for the nonprofit Best Buddies, lists his priorities as “keeping Peabody safe, affordable, family friendly, well educated, and attractive to business.”

Moutsoulas has served on the council for 13 years and says on his campaign Facebook page that he would bring maturity, experience and a bipartisan spirit to the State House. He had sought the House seat in 2014 but was knocked out in the Democratic primary.

Peabody’s March 1 general election will also give voters the option of electing Christopher Gallagher, an unenrolled candidate and alternate member of the Cable Commission.

Brockton’s Democratic primary is a three-way race among one former and two current city councilors. Ward 7 Councilor Shirley Asack, at-large Councilor Shayna Barnes and Gerard Cassidy, who served as Ward 3 councilor from 2008, are all seeking the nomination.

Cassidy worked for over 25 years as an aide to Brockton legislator Thomas Kennedy, who represented the city in the House and the Senate. Brady was elected to the Senate after Kennedy’s death last year.

Barnes, an aide to Congressman Stephen Lynch, was elected to her second term on the city council in November. She has also worked in the Plymouth District Attorney’s office, the Department of Youth Services and the Department of Social Services. Barnes has said she plans to call for reform in the criminal justice and child welfare systems, as well as an increase in local aid.

Asack, according to her campaign website, is a graduate of Brockton High School and a supporter of public education. Her website says she will push for the development of a Brockton drug court and more funding for early childhood education centers in the city.

The Democratic primary to succeed DiNatale, in a district covering the city of Fitchburg and one precinct in Lunenburg, pits Fitchburg City Councilor at-large Stephan Hay against social worker Kimatra Maxwell and Democratic State Committee member Joe Byrne.

Byrne, a retiree and Vietnam veteran, serves on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and cites holding down energy costs as a key issue, along with ensuring funding for Fitchburg State University.

Maxwell said in a press release that she wants to help the district attract and retain young professionals. She hopes to use her professional experience to be a “strong voice” in tackling the state’s opioid crisis and seeking reform at the Department of Children and Families.

Running with the endorsements of Fitchburg Firefighters Local 3128 and the West Boylston-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 4, Hay said in his campaign announcement that he wants to bring economic growth to the region and advocate for public safety and education.

City Councilor Dean Tran is seeking the Republican nomination via a write-in campaign. Tran, the ticket-topper in November’s Fitchburg council at-large race, describes himself as the first and only Vietnamese-American elected to office in Massachusetts and an advocate for fiscal discipline, including low taxes.

Copyright 2016 State House News Service

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