By The Advocate
The dates for the special primary and election to fill the vacant state representative’s position were barely set by the secretary of state’s office before candidates started lining up to get into the race.
The primary will be held on Tuesday, March 5, and the election will be held on Tuesday, April 2.
Potential candidates for the House seat have until a week from next Tuesday, Jan. 22, to file nomination papers to secure placement on the ballot.
Stephen “Stat” Smith resigned from the House last week as part of a plea bargain on charges that he committed voter fraud in two separate local elections by deliberately abusing the absentee ballot procedure.
It appears that there will be a large field of current office-holders running for the House berth, encouraged by the fact that they don’t have to give up their present positions to run in the special primary/election.
Already there are eight individuals who have indicated that they plan to become candidates to replace Smith, including a former mayor, two aldermen, a pair of councilors and two with school committee experience.
Five of the eight have taken out nomination papers to seek the Democratic nomination in the March primary. They include:
John F. Hanlon, former one-term mayor, who served 22 years on the board of aldermen and was the city clerk for 18 years. Hanlon ran against Smith for the House seat in 2010 – one of the races in which federal prosecutors maintain Smith abused the absentee ballot law.
Ald.-at-Large Joseph McGonagle, who was president of the board last year. McGonagle was runner-up for mayor in 2007 and is a former member of the common council. He is from a prominent Everett family and is a private contractor.
Ward Two Ald. Michael Mangan, a two-term member of the board. He is a former city councilman and ex-labor representative on the local housing authority board. A dedicated youth basketball and Pop Warner football coach in the city, he is employed as an MBTA train operator.
Ward One Councilor Wayne Matewsky has served the city for three decades as an alderman and common council member. For the past two years, he also served as ex-Rep. Smith’s “chief of staff” at the State House. He is the current labor representative on the housing board and has a strong pro-union record.
Well-known local resident Joseph Santagate, Sr., has run for local public office several times in the past, but even though he has not been successful in any of those attempts, he plans to run in this race as a Democrat.
Three other candidates – Ward Five Councilor Rosa DiFlorio, School Committeeman Joseph Lamonica and former school board member Dennis Gianatassio, who once ran against Smith for the House seat – have pulled nomination papers to run as “unenrolled” independent candidates.
If they get the required number of certified signatures on their nomination papers, they would automatically bypass the primary as independent candidates and would go directly onto the April election ballot.
Over the past week, there have been rumors about even more candidates possibly joining the field, such as veteran Ald. Michael Marchese, a past House candidate; council members Sergio Cornelio and Cynthia Sarnie; local veterans’ services commissioner Joseph Hickey; and Council President Leo McKinnon.
But none of these “rumored candidates” has taken any action so far to indicate that they intend to enter the race.