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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Word Around the Ward: Who? What? Why? Election 2015

As other news providers have begun giving this topic some attention, I thought I would jump in and give my awesome readers a chance to lay out their thoughts on what the Somerville political landscape will look like by year’s end. Please know that you can go beyond Ward 5 if you wish and you may also repost previous predictions here.

So, what do you think? Who is running? Who should run? Why? What do you think their chances are? Should you be incorrectly mentioned or not mentioned, please feel free to comment or use the survey to be added.

Here’s what’s been spinning the rumor mill as of late…

After deciding not to run for Governor, Curtatone breezed through 2013 unopposed. An anti-Curtatone regime has been rearing its head in the media, but is it enough to overthrow Joe? Rumored Mayoral Candidates include Ward 4 Alderman Tony LaFuente and Alderman at Large Bill White. Curtatone’s free summers might end in 2015 as someone may challenge him.

Ward 1
Could Elio LoRusso be ready for another run again incumbent Matt McLaughlin? Construction has kept Matt busy with board orders and constituents rave about his level of communication with them. From what I hear, he does need to get his letters to FRIT fact-checked. Camp Elio has been fairly quiet…different from 2013 which saw Mr. LoRusso commenting on news articles and keeping his Facebook page filled with personal opinions on various city-wide topics. Elio?

Steve Roix has been doing a good job and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Although he had an opponent in 2013, no one has verbalized a desire to serve on the School Committee.

Ward 2
Maryann Heuston has been increasing her communications approach with constituents through a re-launched newsletter and increased social media presence, but a longtime incumbent is always on the radar for the Progressive Democrats. The question is who they would put against such a strong candidate?

Dan Futrell also has a great communications approach that included an op-ed published in the Somerville Journal recently. Mike Nionakis has already bid Somerville politics farewell and Dan is a PDS darling, so there’s no worry there.

Ward 3
Bobby McWatters won, but not by much. This could be the motivator for Suzanne Bremer to rally the troops again in 2015. Should Joe Curtatone be uncontested, this will be the race to watch.

Adam Sweeting has announced that he will not be running for re-election, opening the door for a new representative on the School Committee. Lee Palmer and Dorothy Kelly Gay are rumored to be interested. Former Mayor DKG has been more public lately even receiving a shout-out from Mayor Curtatone during this year’s State of the City address. Interestingly, she was seated right next to the Mayor’s Mother. I know Lee has been heavily involved with campaigns for Christine Barber and Denise Provost, has a child in the school system, but I don’t know much more of who she really is. Most likely, PDS will continue their occupancy of this seat.

Ward 4
Tony LaFuente is one name consistently coming up as a potential Mayoral candidate. This will be a repeat for the two-term Ward 4 Alderman who lost in 2003 to Joe Curtatone after both defeated Dorothy Kelly Gay in the Primary. Regardless of LaFuente’s decision, you may see a race for Alderman in Ward 4 as two residents, a member of a neighborhood organization and a strong female candidate, have expressed serious interest. Proposing cutting over $30,000 out of the Council on Aging budget this past June may come back to haunt LaFuente no matter what race he chooses to participate in.

Christine Rafal has held the School Committee seat for years and is comfortable. Her running unopposed will be a godsend to PDS as she will be needed to canvass for candidates in other wards.

Ward 5
Mark Niedergang made the smart decision not to support the removal of the Recreation Department from the City’s budget and the reduction of the Council on Aging allowance (as described in Ward 4). He has had two fundraisers solidifying his desire to remain on the Board.

Laura Pitone proved herself to be a door-knocking champion in 2013, but has remained quiet on the mainstream media front. With Ross Richmond recently engaged and Caroline Shea Rosas busy with her family, it looks like Pitone will be free of campaigning for 2015.

Ward 6
Since August of 2014, I have heard that Rebekah Gewirtz will not seek re-election and has been in the process of convincing Paul Bockelman to run for the seat. Should this be true, anticipate her releasing a farewell statement soon that will include an endorsement for Bockelman.

Along with Gewirtz’s departure, the Ward 6 School Committee seat will also be available. As sure as the sun rises and sets, PDS already has someone lined up as they continue their pursuit of world dominance.

Ward 7
Katjana Ballantyne curbed a Capuano, but can she fend off a Fitzgerald? Sean Fitzgerald – former Alderman at Large candidate – may be considering the switch to a ward run despite publicly praising the incumbent on her vote for last year’s Pay to Play Ordinance. Everything’s fair in love and politics.

Carrie Normand is one of very few elected officials I actually like. I hope she gets a campaign-free summer. Campaigning sucks.

Aldermen at Large
Jack Connolly has already squashed rumors that he’s retiring this year. Who’s to blame him…he’s been on the Board for the opening of 2 MBTA train stations (Red and Orange) and now has the trifecta with the Green Line Extension.

Mary Jo Rossetti is the newcomer to the At Large scene and has been a force to be reckoned with. Her community meeting presence has gained her city-wide visibility and her leading the charge on airplane noise and gained her notoriety. She will be the target for a PDS-placed candidate, however, so she needs to stay the course and raise some funds.

Although rumors are swirling around a possible Mayoral run, Bill White will probably continue his tenure on the Board of Aldermen.

Dennis Sullivan has been rumored to be considering retirement with the birth of his daughter being the main reason. I’m hoping to sign his nomination papers a couple more times before he calls it quits.

Rumored At Large candidates include Sean Fitzgerald, Joe Capuano, Mike Capuano, and Todd Easton along with whoever draws the shortest straw at the next PDS meeting.


Anonymous said...

Don't let the door hit you in ass on the way out Becky. I'm sorry but I lost all respect for her when she endorsed Mark as someone who will fight for working class families.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Curtacone didn't do himself any favor by endorsing the blockage of traffic on Route 93 by those protestors.

I for one, who always thought he was a man with common sense principles----not anymore!

Anyone who runs against him should not let the voters forget what he said in support of those protestors doing what they did.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Todd is running--FYI

Anonymous said...

White as mayor? I'll move to Medford.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact there were many Somerville residents who either were caught up in the backed up traffic and/or were impacted negatively in other ways.

To say nothing about an ambulance, with a patient, that had to divert to alternate means to get to a hospital; losing valuable time in the process.
That made the TV news.

Anonymous said...

Moving to Medford if White is elected mayor?

Thorowing ythe baby out with the bathwater/
He will welcome that you will no longer be able to vote against him in future re-elections.

Anonymous said...

Rafal already announce that she is not seeking re-election.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting take on these potential races, Courtney. I think you're probably right about most of them. I will say, I ndisagree with your take on Dan Futrell. Sure, he might have support from PDS, but from the few times I've met him, he seems genuine and a truly stand-up person, unlike many of the PDS-supported candidates.

Looking at your at large projections, I'd have to say Fitzgerald goes at large instead of Ward 7. It's full of PDS people who thought an untested, unknown member of PDS had more progressive bona fides than the son of one of the most progressive members of congress.

As for at large, I think it'd be Fitzgerald and the 4 incumbents. If one of the Capuanos got in, it'll be Mike Jr. He has the cred from his service on several boards and is an attorney.

Anonymous said...

Bill White is no doubt one of the most, if not the most, intelligent person on the Board of Alderman, and probably the most intelligent of all elected and appointed office holders in the city.

Both by education (a lawyer) and experience, he is so recognized by his peers on the BOA that they keep extending his position as President of the Board.

He is the go-to-guy regarding questions on "Robert's Rules on Parlimentary Procedures".. a subject unto itself for experts on that subject.

Also, I like him because he has no problem with rebutals, differnces of opinion if you will,
going against Mayor Curtacone when he (Bill) thinks the mayor is wrong.

Unlike several of the other "lackeys" on the board who automatically "rubber stamp" approvals of the mayor's wants.

In regard to the increased residential exemption from 30 to 35 per cent; it appeared in print that Mayor Curtacone was given credit, or took credit. for securing that increase from the state. Not true!

I watched the BOA meeting where IT WAS Bill White who set that request in motion at the time the Chief Assesor was at the podium explaining tax rate increases to the BOA.

When the Chief Assessor was explaining the details of the tax increases, most all the aldermen
---as usual when the Chief Assesor has spoken before the BOA in past years---appeared not to have a clue as to what he was saying; except to bring forth some of their constituents

Not so for Alderman White.

Anonymous said...

Another thing about Mr. White.
Over the years he has never conducted fund raisers.

He pays for all his campain expenses out of his own pocket; thus he is "beholding" to no one.

Some pols conduct fundraisers from year to year even when they are running unopposed. Sean O'Donovan for one, among others.

Anonymous said...

So I need to be independently wealthy to be a respected alderman?

Anonymous said...

Bill White is not nearly as smart as he seems. He asks questions designed to make him look smart, when in reality, it just makes him seem nit picky. The fact that he can self finance,and was a registered REPUBLICAN until about 10 years ago makes me trust him even less.

Most educated/smartest elected official from Somerville? Ever heard of Congressman Capuano? Could wipe the floor with White. So could Mike and Joe Capuano fwiw. Both went to Harvard I think.

Anonymous said...

For YOU, YES! As you noted...."So I"........

For Bill White--NO!

Anonymous said...

A whole lot a names, and not a single person of color. Again. So much for the 'diversity' of Somerville that we're always slapping ourselves on the back about . .

Anonymous said...

For the above poster who "doesn't trust" Bill White; partly because he was once a registered Republican. How short minded with that statement!

Seems to have forgotten that White was first elected to the BOA as a registered Republican by vastly registered Somerville Democrat voters; and one of Somerville's top vote-getters every election year.
He must be doing something right!

Why? Because White's stance when supporting an issue went with what he considered to be good for the citizens of Somerville, absent being affiliated with any political party.

Sure, Bill White did switch over to being a registered Democrat; big deal, he still supports what is best for Somerville.

As far as criticzing White for asking questions. Absurd!
To get to the heart of an issue sometimes questions must be asked.
If one watches all the BOA meetings, there are more questions asked of him by his peers.

If one has attended any of White's Committee meetings one will know how relentless his questioning to be to resolve a subject that comes before the committee.

As far as comparing him to Congressman Michael Capuano, both are comparable in representing the best interests of all citizens in their jurisdiction.

In comparing White to Joe Capuano and Mike Jr. both Mike and Joe have yet to earn the right to being compared to Mr. White; or even their father. Who, by the way is a lawyer and a Dartmouth College graduate.

Both sons, as well as any person holding a college degree, does not automatically define them as being in the same class as a college graduate who has in fact put in years of accomplishments since graduating.

Both those sons have a way to go before being elevated to a level that includes both Mr. White and their father.

About the poster who cited the lack of color in all the persons mentioned on this blog.
Two points:
1)---a black person once was elected and served on the BOA. I believe he resigned or did not choose to run again.
2)---please tell us the number of persons of color who have run for political office in Somervile and lost. [Point: if they don't choose to run, don't point fingers at the lack of color diversity holding political office.)

If you notice a couple of persons of color were recently appointed and approved by the BOA to fill key positions in the city; others have filled other positions in the past and currently still there.

On the subject of lawyers financing their own expenses when running for office; "because they are "lawyers and rich."

Mark Neidergang is a lawyer--"thus, supposedly is "rich"---but he still conducts and has conducted multiple fundraisers; as did former alderman lawyer Sean O'Donovon.
They both had fundraisers even in non-election years.

In the past several other lawyers who have served on the BOA and/or run for mayor have conducted fundraisers.

Even that posters favorite lawyer guy Congressman Capuano has had fundraisers as far back as when he ran for alderman in ward 5 and when he ran for mayor.

Anonymous said...

About "diversity".... Somervile elected officials.

At one time, in the past, if a person was not of Irish heritage he/she had no chance of being elected as mayor of Somerville; same went for the city of Boston.
Thank you Mayor Menino.

Mayor Brune, followed by Capuano and Curtacone, broke through that "barrier."
And how about former mayor Dorothy kelly Gay who broke through the gender "barrier." (Of course being Irish helped :-)"

No way a peron of color can be elected to office unless they choose to run; as did those named above.

Anonymous said...

It should also be mentioned that the owner of this blog was once an alderperson-herself-serving as the first openly gay member of the board.

Anonymous said...

Score for diversity!

Anonymous said...

I don't think posters are criticizing White for being a lawyer (or Neidergang or Capuano for that matter). I personaly think it doesn't speak well of a politician who uses his money to keep himself in office.

I do absolutely love Congressman Capuano. I think he did a great job as mayor and in congress. As for his kids, I agree with the poster that says they have yet to earn a comparison. They are smart, sure, but only one has run for office. But from what I know, the other has been on several local boards for years.

Andrew LaFuente has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for Ward 4. While I don't know him, I hope his passion for the ward extends beyond his father's mere ambitions.

Anonymous said...


But she was "appointed" to fill a vacancy by the retiring alderman; and lost in a bid for election.

I know for a fact that some voters voted against her for being gay.
Another "barrier" that MUST be overcome.

I hope she trys again..... be it Alderman At large; or ward 5.
she would make a good one!

Anonymous said...

Kevin Tarpley was the black Alderman mentioned above. In 2001, he became the first person of color ever elected in Somerville. Capuano hated him, and did everything he could to drive him off the Board. I think he lasted 1 term.

I'm not sure exactly when the Somerville Board of Aldermen was first convened. But we became a City in 1872. So the grand total of non-white elected officials in the 150 +/- year history of the City is 1.

Anonymous said...

So please, what the hell is wrong with a politician paying for his/her own ads and literature expenses, ect., when campaigning for elected office?

Best that way than "donors" who expect favors and/or city jobs if their person gets elected.

The politician who pays his/her own way is guaranteed one vote; his/her own. The money doesn't vote; Citizens vote!

Ever question what happens to all the donor fundraiser money accumulated by a pol currently in office; and then re-signs while in office, or simply does not choose to run again.

Bill Roche,Bruce Desmond, Sean O'Donovan being the most recent.
Did they give the money back to the donors? Highly unlikely!

Anonymous said...

Above poster who cited only one non-white elected official in Somerville since 1872.

Okay, now tell us how many non-whites actually pulled papers, ran for office, and failed in their bid for elected office since 1872?

Anonymous said...

"Capuano hated Kevin Tarpley and and did everything possible to drive him off the board board."

Kevin was elected board president in 2001; and Dot kelly gay was mayor that year.

Capuano wasn't even on the BOA that year.


Anonymous said...

Sorry sorry on the years for Tarpley. I got that wrong. He first got elected when Capuano was still mayor. So that was before 2001. And I forgot about him getting re-elected a second time. Sorry about the mistake. I'm getting old and forgetful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your apology.

But you still have your facts "muddled.

Kevin was first elected to the BOA and started his tenure on Jan. 1 1997.

Mike Capuano started as Mayor in 1999.

Tarpley, fwiw, came to Somerville from Ohio.

He also was suspended from his day job in Somerville for "fudging" his work hours; getting paid for hours not worked.

He also was getting "heat" from his own non-white community for, allegedly, not representing and working for their best interests.

Then he also got into trouble with the Somerville Election Commission for messing with election rules.

Capuano described him as one of the most divisive politicians he, Capuano, ever encountered.

It appears whatever criticism came from others towards Mr. Tarpley he brought upon himself.

I am not a racist, but hate it when well founded faults correctly laid upon a person of color; that person of color claims they were "Picked on" because of the color of their skin. Some white people also picking up on that claim in defending a a non-white person.

Not to say that a charge against a non-white sometimes is proven to be true; the same for white people.

Anonymous said...

Last poster, your Somerville political history, especially for Kevin Tarpley, is admirable. Maybe it was a typo but Capuano got elected to Congress in 98. Mayor in 89. He and Tarpley overlapped for several years. I have known the Capuanos (going back to Mike's father Andy), Bill White, Tarpley and all these folks. I like Bill White as well as Mike Capuano and his sons.

I think Bill is an excellent public servant. I think Mike Senior is an excellent public servant. I also feel both of his boys are honorable young men with service to the community. I want them all in elective office, they are exactly who we should have.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your courteous reply--"old-timer." That's a compliment.
Agree with all your other points.

I also believe Mike Capuano's father was wounded in World War 2 combat---his leg, I believe, suffered permanent damage.
There is a plaque honoring Captain Capuano at an intersection near City Hall.

Yes, some dates/years very well may have run concurently with both Tarpley and Capuano serving at the same time.
However, my intent was to cite the year the sucessful candidate actually took their oath to serve; not the year of the actual election--(the prior year--November)--but no harm, no foul.

Another little tid-bit about Tarpley while serving as Ward 2 Alderman.
An item came before the BOA requiring a majority vote to not allow any more auto repair shop on Somerville Avenue. Tarpley voted in favor, the item passed.

Lo and behold, a year or two later, Kevin wanted to open a auto repair shop on Somerville Avenue.

No wonder some of his peers and other city officials came down on him. He was refused the permit.

He served not with clean hands!
Had nothing to do with his being of color, as one above poster implied.

Must not forget, at one time his peers unamiously elected him as Board President. Looked upon as an honor by all having been elected president.

Anonymous said...

It appears Michael Capuano Sr. had no love for Mr. Tarpley for all the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

Previous poster - correct, at the time being elected Board President meant something. Then the Board changed it to the President could only serve one or two years. Made sense, to allow for influence from all corners of the city and all wards.

Lo and behold, another poster's favorite Alderman Bill White flaunted this new rule to stay on as President for 3 or 4 years. Sure, he might hold no fundraisers because he can self finance, but when it comes to power grabs, he's all in.

Anonymous said...

The way that White speaks to city hall employees is absolutely disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Bill White didn't flaunt the new rule, the BOA, as a body, flaunted it by "popular demand" in wanting White to stay on as President because he ran board meetings as they should of been run; in other words, kept them moving, no wasted rhetoric which meant the meetings were adjourned within a decent time frame.
Members appreciated and wanted that.

I watched many an aldermen meeting with him as president; once he perceived a speaker "rambling on" he shut them down.

To say nothing about White knowing
the "rules."

He starts the meeetings on time.

I have seen past presidents start meetings as much as twenty minutes past the designated stsrt time.

Anonymous said...

Not true. He sought to stay on as president calling each member personally.

Anonymous said...

What "power grab"????

As preident he still only had one vote on all issues; and secondly, as ALDERMAN-AT-LARGE; the entire city was his "domain."
"All corners of the city and all wards."

Anonymous said...

When White, as President, wants to enter into a debate or offer an opinion on any item/issue that comes before the board, he is required, as all presidents are required to do, must vacate the podium and take a seat at the horseshoe when speaking.
Vice-President taking the podium in his stead.

Any "power grab" he can be accussed of comes from other members "picking his brains/intelligence" for answers to help settle an issue.

Anonymous said...

Also, as to Bill White, or any board president creating any "influence" on other aldermen by verbalizing his/their vote on any given item while at the podium; protocol calls for the clerk to secure and record the president's vote last; after all other aldermen present have voted.

Anonymous said...

BOA President is more of an administrative function than an opportunity to influence power impacting other aldermen votes.

Anonymous said...

Actually the board president is involved with additional working hours; not only serving on working aldermen committees, but also, by established protocol, sits on the school committee meetings as well.

Bottom line: more working man-hours than being in a position of "power."

Most BOA presidents, if not all, also work a full time job in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Truth be told, Alderman White was kept on as president by default as no other aldermen wanted the job. Albeit,a vote was recorded with all members voting him to continue on as president.

Historically, in past years for the most part, the Vice-President was elected to that position.
Alderman Connolly not wanting the president's job this time around--2015.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the campaign finance reports is interesting. PDS taps the same wells every fundraiser.