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Why Disabled Candidate Decides Not to Run for Pedone’s Seat

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Gordon Davis

A disabled candidate who had taken out papers to run for Vincent Pedone's vacant State Rep. seat in the 15th Worcester District will not run. Instead, he is lending his support to a Democratic hopeful.

Gordon Davis, who had pulled out papers as an un-enrolled challenger, told GoLocalWorcester he is withdrawing from consideration. He will not return his papers and is throwing his support behind Democratic challenger, Mary Keefe.

The deadline for all candidates in the November election to return nomination papers to City Hall for certification is Monday at 5 p.m. Once papers are certified, candidates have until 5 p.m. on May 29th to send in their papers to the Secretary of State’s office.

Disability a factor

“I am not running,” Davis said. “Mary and I have similar views, I suppose. I felt if both of us were running we’d take away votes from each other.”

A retired advocate for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), Davis said his disability factored into his decision. He is legally blind.

“I can still see a little,” he said. “I just think someone younger and not as handicapped could probably do as good a job as I could.”

His move leaves the race without an African American candidate. The district, he acknowledged, is a “minority majority.” Davis initially pulled out papers in part because he felt minorities needed a voice on Beacon Hill.

“I could give a more balanced representation,” he said. “I believe that should happen. Not just to bring a face to Boston for minorities, but actually represent the interests of all minorities.”

Soliciting signatures

Ralph Perez hopes he can fill that void, but first he has to compile enough signatures – each candidate must obtain at least 150 signatures from registered voters to be eligible for election. While he does not believe it is critical to be a minority candidate in a heavily minority part of the city – the Main South area is represented in the 15th district – there are many challenges for candidates when they are trying to get potential voters to sign their nomination papers.

“They don’t understand the politics or know about nomination papers,” Perez said of many non-English speaking and other minority residents. “I mean, how often does our community get to sign nomination papers? They make all kinds of mistakes.”

Perez had submitted just 58 signatures to the city clerk’s office as of Thursday, and said a personal matter had been keeping him from knocking on doors. But he said he is hopeful to make a final push and have enough certified signatures to get on the ballot. If he does, Perez said he is ready to represent an area he believes is just now becoming more involved with the political process on local and state levels.

“This is a whole new learning experience for a lot of the community,” he said. “They’re just beginning to realize how the electoral process affects them every day.” Not just a minority.

Minority residents of the Main South area saw a Latino candidate, Sarai Rivera, elected to city council last year. But just being a minority isn’t what matters, according to Davis.

“I don’t know that it really sends a message to the community,” he said. “We all have our limitations. There’s a lot that goes into it, but able people have limitations, too.”

Still, he acknowledged, someone who has “lived it” may better understand the needs of minorities.

“I do think it can be best expressed by someone who has been there and really been through the struggle,” Davis said.

Perez agreed. Not every candidate, he noted, has lived the day-to-day struggle in Main South.

“How many have lived in the neighborhood? I have,” he said. “How many have seen the shootings and the violence? I have. Everyone else has their version, but I lived it.”

Keefe said it is “important to recognize our population has changed and what had been termed minority has become the majority.”

While she is not a minority, Keefe said she has lived in the greater Piedmont Street area for 15 years. Rivera’s election, she said, was an exciting moment and a signal of things to come.

“There is change coming about,” she said, adding the Main South neighborhood is slowly becoming more stabilized.

Where they’re at

In addition to Perez, most other candidates have submitted at least some of their nomination papers to the city clerk. Kate Toomey had 119 signatures as of Thursday, according to Joshua Meduna, who works in Worcester’s Elections Division. Keefe had 107. Three candidates already had more than what was required. Frank Beshai submitted 158, Biancheria 209 and Republican Brian O’Malley 162.

Francis “Chick” Notarangelo was the latest to pull nomination papers. He would run as a Democrat. He had not submitted any signatures as of Thursday, Meduna said.

The candidates are running to fill the seat left vacant when former Democratic state Rep. Vincent Pedone stepped down to pursue other career opportunities.


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