Somerville citizens, already saddled with a soaring tax rate and poor government services, will be further humiliated over the next two months by a pathetic field of candidates for city office. Instead of say, addressing even one issue, so far these candidates have focused on slandering each other on Facebook and committing campaign violations.
Let’s take a look at this municipal shit-show starting out in Ward One.
WARD ONE – BLOWJOBS AND POLITICS DON’T MIX
Ward One takes the prize for dirtiest, filthiest campaign. In the most underserved, economically disadvantaged neighborhood, a lame blowjob joke and illegal fundraising have defined the race.
When Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roche resigned to take a cushy, six-figure city retirement plan job, in December he appointed School Committee member Maureen Bastardi. One of Bastardi’s two challengers is Elio LoRusso, a two-time loser for city office who so far has won over the demographic of sexist pigs—a supporter used the phrase “Lewinskyism” in a Facebook posting to describe Bastardi’s appointment by Roche. In response, Roche is apparently repeating it at senior centers across town to discourage LoRusso support—a classy move compared to the illegal fundraising Roche was doing (first uncovered by DigBoston in July).
The third candidate in the race—Iraq War veteran and community activist Matt McLaughlin— alienated himself from the political establishment by—gasp!—advocating for local jobs and city youth. Despite running against two candidates engaged in campaign violations and sexual slurs, the war veteran with a Tufts education and a history of advocating for the city’s most vulnerable is a clear underdog—thanks Ward One.
WARD THREE – MACHINE VS. PROGRESSIVES
The race in Ward Three also has a primary in September—this one to replace an alderman who served 26 years. That alderman’s biggest accomplishment in the last decade? Dodging a Middlesex County DA child abuse investigation.
Although it doesn’t feature the same dirty tactics as Ward One, the Ward Three race is a referendum on machine versus progressive politics in Somerville. Representing the progressive side is Suzanne Bremer who, besides mounting a quixotic campaign against Curtatone in 2007, serves on the board of the city’s only anti-poverty agency. Representing the Machine is Robert McWatters, a city clerk since 1996 credited with putting in the shoe leather to save previous Machine candidates such as aldermen Bob Trane and Sean O’Donovan from extinction. Smart money is on the insider.
WARD FIVE – DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON YOUR UNETHICAL ASS
In Ward 5, Alderman Sean O’Donovan capped off an admirable career of avoiding indictment—despite lowlights such as suing his own constituents—by appointing blogger Courtney O’Keefe to his alderman’s seat. O’Keefe’s challenger—School Committee member Mark Niedergang—has the edge in experience, but that probably won’t matter as O’Keefe has the full might of the city’s political machine behind her.
O’Keefe’s appointment was historic in one sense—she is the first openly gay alderman in Somerville history—but familiar in another: she was appointed through a shady process that shut voters out. In Ward 5, this type of succession without an election is the norm. O’Keefe is even employing the tried and true Machine strategy of avoiding any substantive issue while concentrating solely on get out the vote efforts for Election Day.