Six Massachusetts Candidates Worth Watching In Tonight’s Election Returns

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Local elections in cities and a few towns take place in Massachusetts on Tuesday, November 2 — and there are some races worth watching for conservatives.

Some feature candidates who stand up for social conservative principles. Others are of interest for other reasons. Party affiliation is not a factor in most local races, as most local elections in Massachusetts are nonpartisan — meaning candidates do not declare a party affiliation on the ballot.

Below is a thumbnail sketch at several local elections in Massachusetts and what to look for in election returns tonight.


1.  Worcester

Shanel Soucy is the most interesting of eight candidates running for six available seats on the Worcester School Committee.

Soucy’s opposition to Worcester’s new graphic sex education curriculum and her role in the successful opt-out campaign has helped lead to almost 3,000 children ditching it. (About one-eighth of all kids in the city’s public school system are spurning the stomach-churning curriculum that was created by an abortion-supporting group; that level is unheard of.)

Soucy’s leadership against the sex ed curriculum has made her a popular figure among conservatives. She also has a compelling life story. She was a teen mom herself; now she’s a certified barber and electrician who provides for her family as a single mom.

If Soucy wins she can’t overturn the sex ed curriculum by herself — left-of-center members will still hold a majority of seats on the school committee.

But what a headache she’d be for them.


2.  Franklin

Dashe Videira is one of 12 candidates running for seven seats on Franklin’s school committee — and she’s someone for conservatives to watch.

She spoke out against the use of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in a class in the town’s public high school; it’s a controversial book banned by many school districts in which the 11-year-old protagonist is raped and impregnated by her father, amid romance-novel-level language.

Videira supports parents having more of a say in their children’s education.

While Franklin once had a reputation for being relatively conservative, the town currently leans left — Franklin voted 62 to 36 percent for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020. Still, by Massachusetts standards that result almost qualifies as moderate — statewide, voters picked Biden by 33 points, not by 26 points, as in Franklin.

Videira wouldn’t constitute a majority on the school committee. But a successful minority-view member of a school committee brings to the attention of the public items they wouldn’t know about otherwise. She can do that if she wins.


3.  Waltham

Here are three sentences from the web site of Waltham School Committee candidate Renee Arena:


I think that Waltham kids deserve to know that they don’t need to incur crippling debt in order to get a good job. They need to know that America is a great country. I want parents to know that they are the ultimate power when it comes to their child’s education.


She also wants a traditional civics program in Waltham that presents America as an exceptional country, as opposed to a place to protest against and tear down. “If you’re in eighth grade, you don’t have any context as to what this country is all about,” Arena said during a local interview program in June 2021 (starting at 8:34 of this video).

School committees don’t run public school systems in Massachusetts. That’s done chiefly by superintendents and principals. But the school committee hires and fires the superintendent; sets the school district’s budget; and sets policy goals (including voting up or down on proposed curriculums).

All of that is harder to do for left-wingers if a nonconformist is publicizing what the other members are trying to do.


4.  Boston

The fiscally liberal, socially conservative Boston of two or three generations ago is all but gone. Its death certificate will likely be signed tonight, when voters are expected to elect the most left-wing mayor in the city’s 199-year history. (As a city; it was a town before that, and is currently 391 years old.) Polls say at-large city councilor Michelle Wu will win in a landslide, over not-quite-as-far-left city councilor Annissa Essaibi George.

But the at-large Boston City Council race is worth watching. Eight candidates are vying for four seats. One of them is Althea Garrison, a former state representative and one-year city councilor (2019) who is black, transgender, and a conservative.

Garrison is a perennial candidate and a longshot to finish in the top four — but winning a seat right away doesn’t always matter. Garrison finished in a distant fifth place in 2017. That was good enough to get her a seat on the city council when Ayanna Pressley, then an at-large city councilor, won the September 2018 Democratic primary in the state’s Seventh Congressional District. Pressley resigned from the city council to go to Congress. The city’s rules saying the next highest vote-getter in the previous election gets the vacant seat — which was Garrison.

Can Garrison be in position for that to happen again if someone else resigns? We’ll see.


5.  Amesbury

State Representative James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury) is running against incumbent mayor Kassandra Gove, a Democrat.

Kelcourse’s voting record in the state Legislature — including his support for the ROE Act abortion expansion bill — should appall conservatives. He has done nothing in the state House of Representatives to justify increasing his salary, increasing his pension, or eliminating his commute to work.

Yet the race for mayor of Amesbury is interesting, because if Kelcourse wins, he’ll probably resign his seat in the state Legislature. (He doesn’t have to, but voters egged on by news outlets are rarely happy about double-dipping.) That would result in an open seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, triggering a special election, probably during the first several months of 2022.

The Massachusetts Republican Party has had trouble winning special elections in recent years. (Theories vary as to why. One is that the state is drifting ever further left. Some say Governor Charlie Baker, a nominal Republican, does little to help other GOP candidates. State representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) says it’s because too many GOP candidates don’t have prior political experience.)

If Kelcourse wins, that’s one less liberal Republican in the State House — but a liberal Democrat may replace him. As a nominal member of the GOP, Kelcourse hasn’t exactly crushed it in elections; he won his First Essex District race last year by only 51.6 percent to 48.3 percent. In November 2020 the district went more than two-to-one for Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

So an open seat would likely favor the Democrat.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by 129 to 30. That’s 4.3 to 1, if you don’t have a calculator handy. (And even the lone unenrolled member caucuses with the Democrats.)


6.  Fitchburg

Olivia Tran is running to be the Ward 6 city councilor in Fitchburg, an open seat. Her father, Dean Tran, is a former Republican state senator, who lost a tight re-election bid last year.

As a state senator, Dean Tran was a moderate who occasionally stood up for conservative values, such as voting against the comprehensive sex education bill in January 2020 and against the ROE Act abortion expansion bill in December 2020.

While the younger Tran isn’t running on any hot-button social issues, her focus is more on maintaining roads, parks, schools, and trying to attract businesses to the city. What’s most notable here, however, is that she graduated from high school this year and has name recognition on her side in her first run for office.


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