Mayoral Race, Desire to Participate Drew Voters
By Stephanie Wittenbach
SOMERVILLE, Mass., Nov. 11, 2019 – The hotly contested mayoral race and a desire to take part in the democratic process drew voters out on Election Day earlier this month, even if only 25 percent of eligible voters actually made it to the polls.
Marianne Walles, a longtime social worker, challenged Mayor Joe Curtatone, who was running for a ninth term. Curtatone, the city’s longest-serving mayor, won but Walles got almost 40 percent of the vote. (Both candidates were running on the Democrat line.)
After watching the returns at City Hall on Nov. 5, Rand Wilson, chair of the “Marianne for Mayor” campaign and a union organizer said he was not completely dissatisfied with the result.
“Although Marianne Walles lost the race, she won a lot by entering this campaign,” he said. “The mayor moved to embrace a lot of the issues she supported and we consider that a victory as a result of the race.”
Outside polling stations, some of the voters who did turn out said they paid attention to the race for the city’s top job. For example. while she didn’t want to disclose her vote, Ward 2 voter Carol Alves did note: “I believe in term limits.”
In Ward 1, Javiera Siddiqui said she was concerned about the number of years Curtatone has held office.
“You don’t ever want to have a monopoly,” she said. “If you do, it stagnates change, progress.”
But a Ward 2 voter who asked to be identified as Peter said that his annual postcard from Curtatone was enough for him.
No matter where voters came down on the mayor’s race, everyone noted the importance of voting.
“Voting in the election is a good thing for people to do. You know you have to elect your representative. You have to know who governs you,” Ward 1 resident Emilio Normil said.
Ward 2 voter Alves agreed.
“You have to vote. Especially if you are a woman it’s a privilege,” she said. “There are countries where people are dying and can’t vote. I’ll come out snow, suns, everything I’ll come out and vote.”
During the day, Somerville’s top elections official moved from precinct to precinct, checking to see that all the machines were working. He said he hoped for a high turnout, but that no matter what, every vote would be counted.
“At the end of the day the ballots are counted by the machine. We have a tabulator at each precinct,” Chief Elections Commissioner Nicolas Salerno explained during a stop at the Argenziano School.
Over at the East Somerville Community School, Ward 1 voter Siddiqui had her two daughters in tow.
“This is my first time voting ever,” she said. “I got my citizenship August of this year, we homeschool and I thought it was really important that the kids see how the whole system works and that we do have a voice.”
To see the results (still “unofficial” while mail-in ballots are counted) and for more information, go to the city’s VoteSomerville page.