“New” Faces in Methuen

November, 2005

The running joke before last week’s election was: “who is going to LOSE by a wider margin, Marcos Devers in Lawrence or Ellen Bahan in Methuen?”

 Well, Ellen won that one, but not much else. She lost the mayoral race to Bill Manzi by a margin of 28% to 68%, a resounding victory and mandate for Manzi. I’m sure that Ellen will stay active as always, along with her gadfly minions like Tom Spitalere, who was running around the Valley telling everyone who would listen that Ellen Bahan was going to win “BIG” and that Manzi was going to federal prison. (See page 17.)

 There were no real surprises in Methuen, and with a predictable outcome at the top, turnout was relatively light at only 30%. As we predicted in the Special Election Edition, Kathleen Rahme topped the ticket in the at-large race and Willette won handily. The word with insiders was that the third at-large seat was between Zanni and Campagnone. Well, funny how the election turned out, with Zanni beating Campagnone by 5 votes. That race is now being contested with a recount.

 The Methuen race was also a family event with the mother-son team of the Campagnones, the husband-wife team of the Grondines and the brothers team of the DiBellas.

 Even though none of these “teams” were running against each other, none of them won either. The DiBella brothers were running in the East and West, The Campagnone family was running for at-large and the Tech School and the Grondines were running for school committee and West End Councilor. Maybe the voters didn’t appreciate all of the nepotism in Methuen or didn’t want to put one member in and not the other.

 Because of term limits, many candidates were forced to run for a different office. Mike Condon and Kenneth Henrick were the only candidates who survived running for a different seat. Both Condon and Henrick are presently city councilors, who won their races for the Greater Lawrence Technical School Board. Henrick also won a seat on the school committee.

 None of the other “term-limited-out” candidates won for different offices. Barbara Grondine, a present member of the school committee lost her bid for the West End Council race while Tom Grondine, who now sits on the Tech School Board, lost his bid for school committee. Both Bob Vogler and Joyce Campagnone, present school committee members, lost their at-large bids, as well.

 You have to wonder whether term limits work and whether they are needed at all. Would these candidates be voted out of office if they had run for their present positions as opposed to the new seats they were seeking? I think they would have been defeated anyway. The voters of Methuen know when they want “new faces.”

 I say “new faces” a little tongue in cheek, because most of the winners have been elected officials, appointed officials and have high name recognition.

 In the East District, Larry Giordano, former city councilor and state representative, won a seat, and former zoning and planning board member, Joe Leone, also won.

 In the Central District, former Health Insurance Advisory Committee, Trash Study Committee member and former city employee Phil Lahey won, along with former City Council member and chair, John Cronin.

 And in the West District, former City Councilor Bob Andrew won his seat again and Debra Quinn, whose family has a relationship with Chief Solomon, also won. Bob Andrew did contact The Valley Patriot after our Election Edition to “clear the record.” He stated that he did make deals, but only for the benefit of his constituents, including helping some hook up to the sewer system. He said that he became anti-Dizoglio in Dizoglio’s last term and that he can work with anyone. So, The Valley Patriot looks forward to working with Councilor Andrew.

 Now let’s look at the school committee race. Because there were seven candidates for six seats, chances were pretty good that you would win. Incumbents Martha Welch, Ian Gosselin and Joe Cosgrove all were re-elected. Also winning were, Kenneth Henrick, Gary Marcoux, and George Kazanjian, The seventh man out was Thomas Grondine. The Valley Patriot wrote about Gary Marcoux’s sordid history in Lawrence, and now that he has been elected, we will follow his new career in Methuen politics. There are already candidates coming forward to run against him in two years.

 To all of the winners, I say “congratulations and welcome back,” and to all of the losers, I say, “don’t give up, because there is a good chance you can come back.”