Mayor Dominant Again as Incumbents Roll

By Chris Wangler
September 12, 2023

 

Tuesday’s preliminary election in Waltham offered largely predictable results, with incumbents leading the way amid low voter turnout (15%). 

The top three finishers in three preliminary races (shown above, left to right) were Jeannette McCarthy (mayor), Tom Stanley (at-large city councilor) and Bill Hanley (Ward 3 city councilor).

Meanwhile, first-time candidates Duane Champagne (mayor), Susan Rosenfelder (at-large city councilor) and Barbara Ayala Rugg Diehl (Ward 3 city councilor) were all eliminated from contention in the November 7 municipal election. 

McCarthy Rolls Again

Mayor

Jeannette McCarthy* 3,096

Jonathan Paz 1,901

Duane Champagne 87 

 

Reality caught up to Jonathan Paz’s progressive campaign on Tuesday when longtime incumbent Jeannette McCarthy took 59% of the mayoral tally with 3,096 votes.

 

The Ward 9 city councilor had never earned more than 500 votes in a Waltham election, so 1,901 votes was a big bump.

But with only 36% of the vote, he faces a steep uphill climb in November against a seemingly unbeatable opponent poised to win a sixth term.

For McCarthy, meanwhile, it’s further confirmation that her methodical, old-fashioned approach still resonates.

 

And if history is indicative, she is the clear favorite moving forward. 

During the last mayoral election, in 2019, McCarthy expanded the lead she established in the preliminary election to win easily in November with two thirds of the final vote count.

Darcy in Trouble At Large

At-Large City Councilor (six seats)

Tom Stanley* 2,424

Randy LeBlanc* 2,340

Kathy McMeninen* 2,148

Colleen Bradley-MacArthur* 2,014

Paul Brasco 1,961

Carlos Vidal* 1,924

Patrick O’Brien* 1,759

Steve Duffy 1,753

Tim King 1,645

Emma Tzioumis 1,606

Emily Saperia 1,326

George Darcy 1,014

Susan Rosenfelder 677

 

In a crowded field of 13 at-large candidates vying for six seats, incumbents and familiar faces (Tom Stanley, Randy LeBlanc, Kathy McMenimen) led the way, with one notable exception. 

 

Ward 3 city councilor George Darcy, in office since 2004 and now running at-large, could be off the council by year’s end after finishing second last (1,014 votes). 

Another lifelong Waltham resident, former council president Paul Brasco, didn’t miss a beat in his return to politics, finishing fifth. He’s now in a good position to get back on the city council.

 

In an interesting twist, Colleen Bradley-MacArthur, who edged Brasco off the council two years ago by only 17 votes, got more votes than Brasco once again.

The margin this time was 53 votes, reflecting growing popularity for the mom and small business owner.

 

Right behind Brasco, councilor-at-large Carlos Vidal secured the coveted sixth spot with 1,921 votes, but he cannot rest on his laurels.

Fellow incumbent Patrick O’Brien (1,759) and four first-time candidates will be motivated to earn the final at-large seat in November.

Hanley Leads in Ward 3

Ward 3 City Councilor

Bill Hanley 561

Paul Tracey 215

Barbara Ayala Rugg Diehl 168

 

Finally, second-time candidate Bill Hanley looks like he could replace Darcy in Ward 3 in North Waltham. 

 

Hanley narrowly lost to Caren Dunn in 2019 when he lived in Ward 2. After moving to Ward 3, the healthcare administrator campaigned aggressively and earned 561 votes Tuesday—more than twice as many votes as second-place finisher Paul Tracey (215).

 

Hanley and Tracey will face off in November.

First-time candidate Barbara Ayala Rugg Diehl, an artist and environmental educator, failed to make the cut, but made a respectable showing with 168 votes.

Looking Ahead

First-time candidates can struggle to get elected, even if they have strong community and family ties and campaign hard.

 

But preliminary elections can bring motivated hopefuls up to speed quickly.