The people of Methuen have spoken, and the message was emphatic on many fronts on Election Day.
Political newcomer Neil Perry won the Mayoral race with 71 percent of the vote, besting outgoing City Council chairperson Jennifer Kannan in one of the more lopsided Mayoral votes in recent history.
The result was even more emphatic than Perry’s 50 percent win in the September preliminary election.
Previously undecided voters we interviewed throughout the day as they exited various polling locations repeatedly cited the Kannan campaign’s negative turn in focusing on Perry’s 2002 divorce proceedings as a main reason that turned their vote toward Perry.
“The Kannan folks said they wouldn’t talk about rumors, but they didn’t present any true facts in the questions they raised,” said one voter who wished to remain anonymous. “Perry said he came forward with his restraining order revelation because he had heard that Kannan’s folks were going to use it against him. Kannan said her campaign would never focus on rumors, but that’s exactly what they did when they brought up rumors against Perry at Raytheon.”
This refers to the Kannan campaign releasing a press release on Oct. 30 with a group of women Kannan supporters calling on Perry to release his personnel records amid “rumors concerning his treatment of and toward women.”
“It was an extremely negative campaign on both sides,” said another previously undecided voter in an exit interview. “Perry’s folks were far more negative online, but we never heard that negativity from Perry himself. It was extremely disappointing to see that coming from Jen Kannan.
“I’m glad all this is over. I hope we can get to the business of governing and that the Council and Mayor can at least be cordial and respectful of one another,” the voter said. “And this Mayor better show up for every Council meeting.”
Here are the official Mayoral voting totals from the City Clerk’s office as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6:
Neil Perry 6,401 votes (71 percent)
Jennifer Kannan 2,672 votes (29 percent)
On the City Council side, one incumbent led the voting in her race, while another incumbent was voted out. But the big story is that the Council will see five newcomers as part of the nine-member body come January.
In the At-Large race, incumbent Jessica Finocchiaro topped the ticket for the first time, followed by Nicholas DiZoglio (making a transition from School Committee to Council) and David “D.J.” Beauregard, a long-time political activist who made his first run for Methuen public office.
Newcomer Steve Angelo finished fourth in a field crowded with qualified candidates that all ran a positive campaign, but at times, all sounded similar in many of their stances on the city’s issues. Voters we talked to said that name recognition played heavily into their At-Large vote.
Methuen police officer Arthur Hardy finished with close to 2,000 votes despite telling voters that he was not actively campaigning for months.
Here are the final totals:
Jessica Finocchiaro, 4,795 votes
Nicholas DiZoglio, 4,021 votes
David “D.J.” Beauregard, 3,999 votes
Steve Angelo Jr., 3,338 votes
Arthur Hardy, 1,967 votes
In the West, preliminary front-runner Mike Simard repeated the feat in the general election. He will be joined on the Council by Allison Saffie, a fellow political newcomer who improved from third in the preliminary election to second, besting William “Bill” Bryant by more than 200 votes. Methuen businessman Frank Gallo finished fourth behind Bryant.
Here are the final totals:
Mike Simard, 1,909 votes
Allison Saffie, 1,373 votes
Bill Bryant, 1,165 votes
Frank Gallo, 894 votes
The Central District went to form for the preliminary front-runner, as incumbent James “Jimmy” McCarty got close to 250 more votes than his closest competitor to retain his seat. Fellow incumbent Joyce Campagnone finished fourth in the vote and will not return to Council.
The second seat is still in question at this point. Newcomer Joel Faretra finished second with 888 votes, 16 votes ahead of third-place finisher and current School Committee member Dennis “D.J.” Deeb. It is still unclear if Deeb will call for a recount, which by state law, he must do within six days of the election.
Here are the final totals in the Central:
James McCarty, 1,141 votes
Joel Faretra, 889 votes
DJ Deeb, 873 votes
Joyce Campagnone, 801 votes
In the East, both incumbents, Steve Saba and Eunice Zeigler, will return to the Council as they did not face challengers for their seats.