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Three Lawmakers Trading State House for City Hall - Metro US

Three Lawmakers Trading State House for City Hall

Boston City Hall
Boston City Hall. Photo: Francisco Anzola / Flickr Creative Commons

Get ready for special elections to fill seats in the Legislature. Sitting lawmakers went 3 for 3 in Tuesday’s municipal elections and will likely depart Beacon Hill in the coming weeks to take on the job of mayor.

Republican Sen. Don Humason of Westfield, Democrat Rep. Paul Brodeur of Melrose, and Republican Rep. Shaunna O’Connell of Taunton won their respective races for mayor and claimed victory in one form or another online.

Humason’s race against Police Capt. Michael McCabe appeared the closest, with WAMC Public Radio reporting that just 97 votes separated the candidates Tuesday night. Paul Tuthill, the station’s Western Mass. bureau chief, reported Humason “and McCabe have agreed not to claim victory or concede defeat until results are certified.”

On Facebook late Tuesday night, Humason appeared to claim victory.

“Thank you to those who voted for me. I will work hard to make you proud and to earn the respect and trust of those who may not have voted for me,” the Senate’s assistant minority leader posted, adding, “I thank God for this opportunity to serve the city I love in a new way.”

Humason began working in the State House in the early 1990s, first as an aide and then chief of staff to Sen. Michael Knapik. After a stint working for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Humason was elected in 2003 to the Massachusetts House. He has served in the Senate since 2013.

In Melrose, Brodeur topped at-large City Councilor Monica Medeiros by a 3 to 2 margin in his campaign and is set to get to work there soon. Melrose Patch reported that “due to a quirk in the city charter,” Brodeur is to take office as mayor on Nov. 15.

“I am committed to hitting the ground running and working to create a stronger, brighter tomorrow for Melrose,” Brodeur said in a statement posted to Facebook. Patch reported that the mayor-elect “celebrated Tuesday night at his downtown headquarters in the Papa Gino’s his campaign commandeered.”

Brodeur was elected to a fifth term in the House representing Melrose and part of Malden and Wakefield last year. House Speaker Robert DeLeo in February reappointed him to co-chair the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, a position DeLeo will now need to fill – the vice-chair is Rep. Stephen Hay.

In Taunton, O’Connell bested Estele Borges, a city councilor who unsuccessfully sought to unseat O’Connell from the House in 2016, with about 63 percent of the vote, according to the city’s unofficial numbers.

“You spoke loudly tonight and you were heard. You want to put people over politics and you want a mayor with a positive vision that will work day and night for you to bring about the change you’ve been waiting for,” O’Connell said at her election night party. “Tonight, I am proud, honored and humbled to be your next mayor and the first woman mayor” of Taunton.

A lifelong Taunton resident, O’Connell was first elected to the House in 2010 and serves as the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the House Committee on Personnel and Administration.

It will now be up to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka to schedule special elections to fill the three seats, assuming the mayors-elect all resign from their elected state positions.

In the meantime, the Senate’s Republican caucus is poised to fall to four members with the expected departure of Sen. Viriato deMacedo of Plymouth, who plans to resign to take a higher education job in Bridgewater. Massachusetts Republicans this winter now face the likely and unusual prospect of defending three seats in four special elections.

The special elections will test the temperatures of voters ahead of the regularly scheduled 2020 election which will feature races for Congress, a U.S. Senate seat and all 200 seats in the state Legislature.

In Easthampton, voters backed ranked-choice voting, a method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference and an instant runoff is held unless one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the first-choice votes cast.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that ranked-choice voting for mayor passed with 2,297 votes in support and 1,855 opposed, and that ranked-choice voting for the city’s district councilors passed with 2,306 votes to 1,840 opposed.

The group Voter Choice Massachusetts and some state lawmakers have been pushing Massachusetts to adopt ranked-choice voting for its state and federal elections. According to the group, ranked-choice voting has been enacted or used for elections in 20 states.

In September, Attorney General Maura Healey certified an initiative petition as eligible for the 2020 ballot, pending signature collections, that would implement a ranked-choice voting system for most elections in Massachusetts.

In Boston, voters elected the city’s first female-majority City Council and a council that will have more people of color serving together than ever before.

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