By James D. Mitchell
The race for disgraced state representative Stephen Smith’s vacant seat is now down to seven candidates as one potential candidate, local resident Joseph Santagate, Sr. nomination papers were disqualified by the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday. Santagate is reportedly appealing the state’s decision.
Santagate fell short due to some of the signatures being disqualified due to some signee’s failure to register or write clearly. The race would now come down to seven candidates, five Democrats, who have turned in nomination papers to the city clerk’s office by the Tuesday 5:00 PM deadline, including: former mayor and longtime city clerk John Hanlon, common councillors Sergio Cornelio and Wayne Matewsky; and aldermen Joseph McGonagle and Michael Mangen. Independent candidates filing were: former school board member Dennis Gianatassio and Common Councillor Rosa DiFlorio for Smith’s seat which oversees Everett and precinct 2, ward 7 in Malden.
The special election has not been without its drama. On Wednesday, John Hanlon told The Everett Advocate that his nomination papers were disqualified due to his failure to add “Everett” to the addresses on some of the nomination papers, thus voiding many of the signatures. But by the afternoon, Sec. of State William Galvin’s office called the former mayor that he had enough signatures, 165, out of the 150 needed to qualify as a candidate. Needless to say, Mr. Hanlon was elated and relieved after hearing the news.
Smith, who resigned, is currently free on $10,000 unsecured bond after he pled guilty to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law in a South Boston federal courthouse on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.
The U.S. attorney’s office recommended a sentence in Smith’s agreement that included six months of jail time, 12 months of probation and a fine in an amount that is to be determined by the court. The maximum amount for the fine is as high as $100,000. Another condition of the deal stipulates that Smith will not seek elective office for five years, starting from the date of his sentencing, which is set for April 5.
The primary election for the rep seat will take place on Tuesday, March 5.