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Winner of Dem Primary Could Decide Direction of 15th District

Friday, August 31, 2012

 

Observers say the results of next week's primary may resonate in the minority-majority district for years to come.

David LeBoeuf, executive director at the Initiative for Engaged Citizenship in Worcester, said the 15th District is heavily Democratic, and the winner of the primary has a good shot of winning the seat in November as well.

Frank A. Beshai, Dianna Biancheria, Mary Keefe, Ralph Perez and City Councilor Kate Toomey are all competing for the seat vacated by former State Rep. Vincent Pedone, who resigned his office in January after 20 years on Beacon Hill. Before Pedone, the seat was held for nearly 30 years by his predecessor.

Taking the Long View

Whoever ends up taking the contest this year may hold onto the office, like the 15th's forebears, for many years to come.

"This could literally decide the direction and begin the writing of a certain historical narrative for the 15th District," LeBoeuf said.

City Councilor Konstantina Lukes said the District's past seniority on Beacon Hill was critical because it impacts Worcester's ability to persistently pursue the policies that the city wants to make known at the State House.

With so much riding on this year's election, voter turnout and widespread participation will be critical, regardless of who voters cast their ballots for.

"It's great to vote for the candidates, and that's really what entices people to vote," LeBoeuf said.

"But think about voting also as just standing up for yourself and having your voice heard."

A City-Centric District

The 15th and 16th Districts are the only two in the area that consist entirely of the city proper. Their Representatives, therefore, have to be more city- and urban-focused, said LeBoeuf, whereas Reps. from other districts must balance the needs of the city with those of their constituents in the suburbs.

But the big question on everyone in the 15th's mind is: Can anyone represent the whole district?

While it is the city's first minority-majority district, even the 15th's Caucasian population is very diverse.

Thursday Election Contributes to Turnout Worries

As important as the 15th District race is, a lot of potential voters don't even know it's happening.

"It's not that they're not engaged," said LeBoeuf. "It's that they've been alienated and marginalized for so long."

Of course, it doesn't help matters that the election is on Thursday, September 6, rather than the traditional Tuesday.

"No one's going to remember to go," said Lukes.

"It's really going to boil down to how effective people's organization is."

Candy Mero Carlson, chair of the Worcester Democratic City Committee, said the 15th District is extremely active in terms of economic development right now, with City Square, Downtown and CSX projects in the works, but that activity doesn't necessarily translate into voter turnout.

With five candidates, Carlson expects a greater turnout than for a two-person run-off, but she believes it will still top out around 15 percent.

"Whoever gets their vote out is going to win."

 

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