MALDEN ELECTION: Macklin (Ward 4), Bernard (Ward 7) and Zeiberg (Ward 8) will be joining School Committee
The welcome mat was ready and waiting for this election and it turned out to be apropos, considering the results. Three new City Councillors along with three new School Committee members will be coming to City Hall in January, following one of the most highly anticipated Malden municipal elections in years.
Despite no mayoral election this year, the combination of a six-candidate battle for Councillor-at-Large, five contested Ward Council races, two open Ward Council seats and three open School Committee seats led to a busy election season, culminating in Tuesday’s Election Day. Still, despite the perceived higher interest in this election, which included a blizzard of social media discourse, just 20% of Malden’s registered voters went to the polls, the lowest turnout for a citywide election in many years, possibly ever.
Perhaps the most watched race on the ballot was the Councillor-at-Large race, with three seats up for grabs and two seats open (for the first time in two decades) and only one candidate seeking reelection. Incumbent Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora topped the Malden ticket with 3,380 votes and was reelected for another two-year term. Also claiming Councillor-at-Large seats were political newcomers Karen Colón Hayes (3,085 votes) and Carey McDonald (2,899 votes).
There were more contested Ward Council races than in recent memory, and all five incumbents were reelected, staving off challengers. There were also open Ward 6 and Ward 7 City Council seats.
The Ward 6 seat was won by longtime Maplewood neighborhood resident Stephen Winslow. Winslow outpaced former Ward 6 School Committeeman Jerry Leone, 564-338 votes, to win the seat which was vacated by outgoing Councillor David Camell, who chose not to seek reelection. Winslow himself did not seek reelection as an incumbent Councillor-at-Large, instead opting to seek the Ward seat.
Also not seeking reelection was outgoing Councillor-at-Large Debbie DeMaria, thus creating the two open at-Large seats for the first time since the early 2000s.
In the Ward 7 Councillor race it was “out with the old” – as veteran Councillor Neal Anderson opted not to seek reelection – and “in with the old” as well when former Ward 7 Councillor Chris Simonelli, who last served in 2008, will return to the City Council in 2022 after a victory on Tuesday. Simonelli topped first-time City Council candidate and outgoing Ward 7 School Committeewoman Michelle Luong, 509-388 votes.
Five incumbent Ward Councillors faced challengers in Tuesday’s election and all five held on for wins to retain their seats. The two closest races of the five contested Ward seats were in Ward 8 and Ward 5. In Ward 8, incumbent Jadeane Sica topped political newcomer Nate Bae Kupel, 468-385, or, 54-45%. Ward 5 incumbent Barbara Murphy held off challenger Ari Taylor, 668-538 (55-44%), for the win and another two-year term. The three other incumbents breezed to reelection wins. Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe outdistanced first-time candidate Nadege Philippe, 449-153. Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley won a fourth consecutive term, outpacing former Ward 4 Councillor Jeff Donahue, 459-206. Incumbent Ward 3 Councillor Amanda Linehan won reelection to a second term by defeating first-time political candidate Glen Curtis, 807-453. Ward 2 Councillor Paul Condon won his fourth consecutive term running unopposed, receiving 521 votes.
There will be three new School Committee members in 2022, as three open seats were filled and incumbents were reelected, unopposed. Ward 1’s Michael Drummey (468 votes), Ward 2’s Robert McCarthy Jr. (510 votes), Ward 3’s Jennifer Spadafora (948 votes), Ward 5’s Adam Weldai (946 votes) and Ward 6’s Joseph Gray (678 votes) were all reelected unopposed. New to the School Committee for 2022 will be Dawn Macklin in Ward 4, who was elected unopposed with 466 votes; Keith Bernard in Ward 7, who defeated Nichole Mossalam, 483-302; and Sharon Rose Zeiberg, who won the Ward 8 School Committee seat by a 614-163 margin over Bruce Friedman, in a battle of two first-time candidates.
Macklin will replace longtime School Committeeman Leonard Iovino in Ward 4 while Zeiberg replaces John Froio Sr., who represented Ward 8 for many years. Iovino and Froio both opted not to seek reelection. The Ward 7 seat was also open with first-term School Committee Member Michelle Luong not seeking reelection as she ran for Ward 7 Councillor in this year’s election.
FACTS & FIGURES
–Tuesday’s turnout for a citywide election, just 20%, was the lowest turnout citywide since 2015 and 2013, when back-to-back elections drew only 21% turnouts. It may have been the lowest ever for an election where all eight Wards were voting.
–Despite the highest number of registered voters in Malden history, 35,842, only 7,187 voters cast ballots. This low number came despite enhancements like extended early voting at City Hall, expanded absentee and mail-in voting services and the traditional in-person voting on Election Day.
–In 2019, 27% of Malden’s voters went to the polls, a year in which there was a contested mayoral race. Following are the turnouts going back to 2009 in citywide elections: 2017 (27%); 2015 (21%, Mayor ran unopposed); 2013 (21%); 2011 (32%, contested mayoral race); 2009 (30%).
–The highest of those turnouts (in 2011) came during the first mayoral election won by present Mayor Gary Christenson, who is now in the middle of this third four-year term.
–If Mayor Christenson runs for reelection in 2023, wins and serves another four-year term, he will have been in office 16 years as the longest-serving Mayor in Malden municipal history.
–Incumbent Malden Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora got the most votes of any candidate in Tuesday’s election, topping the ticket for reelection with 3,722 votes. This is the first time Spadafora has been the ticket-topper since 2013; he also was the top City Council candidate vote-getter in 2011.
–Finishing 4-5-6 in the three-winner Councillor-at-Large race and out of the running were former Ward 3 Councillor/former Councillor-at-Large John Matheson (2,077 votes), Roberto DiMarco (2,006 votes) and Brian DeLacey (1,483 votes).
–The Malden Ward with the highest voter turnout has traditionally been Ward 3 (West End neighborhood), and it stayed at the top in this election with a 27% turnout. Ward 3, Precinct 2 was also the highest single Precinct for voter turnout with 30%. Ward 5, Precinct 2 was close at 29% turnout.
–Ward 2 (Edgeworth neighborhood) in the past had always been a close second to Ward 3 in voter turnout percentage in the 1980s-2000s, but it has been waning considerably in recent years. On Tuesday, Ward 2 tied Ward 1 for lowest overall voter turnout in the entire city, a meager 15.5%.
–The Precinct with lowest turnout citywide was Ward 8, Precinct 2 with just 293 voters of nearly 2,700 registered casting their ballots: 11%. Interestingly, newcomer Nate Bae Kupel won that Precinct over the incumbent, Jadeane Sica, 152-137.
– First-time candidate Sharon Rose Zeiberg totaled the highest winning percentage for a Ward candidate in her big win for Ward 8 School Committee Member, garnering 71% of the votes cast.
–All three of the Councillor-at-Large winners showed decent citywide appeal as Craig Spadafora, Karen Colón Hayes and Carey McDonald finished as the top three vote-getters in 15 of 16 Precincts, with Spadafora winning eight Precincts, Hayes winning five and McDonald winning three, including both precincts in his home Ward 5.