Incumbent mayors all keep seats

By John Laidler
Globe Correspondent / November 13, 2011

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A change in leadership is coming to four area cities where voters last Tuesday chose successors to outgoing mayors.

In January, Gary Christenson will become Malden’s mayor, while Edward A. “Ted’’ Bettencourt will assume the top job in Peabody and Daniel Rizzo will take over in Revere. Stephen N. Zanni was elected in Methuen, but the outcome may not yet be settled because his opponent, Al DiNuccio, said he would seek a recount after finishing just 28 votes behind.

Tuesday’s mayoral contests otherwise belonged to incumbents. The six mayors facing challenges all prevailed, including in Beverly, where William F. Scanlon Jr. earned a ninth term by defeating City Council president Michael P. Cahill.

The local elections, held in 21 area communities, also delivered voter verdicts on some notable ballot questions.

In Amesbury, residents voted 1,677-1,352 to stop fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

The Board of Health had suspended fluoridation last year due to concerns about the quality of the sodium fluoride being used - large chunks of it were coagulating and clogging the water treatment system.

City officials have said that if they were able to obtain a consistent supply of quality fluoride, they would be able to resume fluoridation, and continue it once the city’s new water treatment plant comes on line after retrofits to the facility, according to health director Jack Morris. But the Board of Health decided voters should choose whether to resume fluoridation, and they opted not to.

“The vote has been taken, and I anticipate the Board of Health will follow the directive of the electorate,’’ Morris said. But he said the board would likely continue a program the city began last year to provide free fluoride dental treatments to children from low-income families.

Amesbury, meanwhile, will now officially refer to itself as a city rather than a town, as a result of a charter change approved by voters Tuesday.

Everett also approved a new city charter that will replace the city’s bicameral City Council with a single-body council and will extend the mayor’s term to four years.

Newburyport will also move to a four-year mayoral term through a charter change approved by voters.

Methuen defeated a charter proposal that would have eliminated its term limits rule.

Saugus will be moving ahead with an upgrade of its Belmonte Middle School after voters approved a debt exclusion, or temporary tax increase, for the project.

The closely watched Beverly mayor’s race ended with a successful comeback by Scanlon, who outpaced Cahill after having finished second to him in a four-way preliminary. Scanlon picked up 5,468 votes to 5,115 for Cahill, a former state representative.

Rizzo will succeed retiring Revere Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino after he bested fellow Councilor at Large George Rotondo, 5,429 votes to 3,938.

In Malden, Christenson, a Ward 1 city councilor, will succeed retiring Mayor Richard C. Howard after defeating Councilor at Large Deborah Fallon, 6,147 votes to 2,907.

In Peabody, Bettencourt, a councilor at large, emerged with a solid win over Sean Fitzgerald, 8,703 votes to 4,980. Fitzgerald is former chief of staff to Mayor Michael J. Bonfanti, who is retiring.

In Methuen, Zanni, a councilor at large, reversed a second-place showing in the preliminary to edge DiNuccio, 4,439 votes to 4,411.

In other mayor’s contests, Everett incumbent Carlo DeMaria Jr. earned a third term by defeating Ward 1 Common Councilor Peter Napolitano, 4,477 votes to 2,007.

“I’m humbled and excited with the show of support,’’ DeMaria said in a prepared statement. “This election shows that the people of Everett are putting their faith in us to move this city forward, and I promise to exceed that expectation in this next term.’’

Amesbury Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III won a fourth term, defeating Planning Board member Ted Semesnyei, 1,810 votes to 1,266.

Kezer said the race was challenging “because we’ve been . . . making changes in how we run local government. You challenge the status quo and it makes it more difficult,’’ adding that he faced “a good candidate who worked very hard. . . . But I’m very pleased with the results.’’

Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk easily won her bid for a third term, picking up 4,466 votes to 1,597 for first-time candidate Kenneth Sarofeen.

Medford Mayor Michael J. McGlynn cruised to his 13th term, collecting 5,721 votes to 3,174 for political newcomer Anthony D’Antonio.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini was reelected to a fifth term, defeating Debra M. Campanile, a political newcomer, 6,352 votes to 2,239.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the results and I’m honored and humbled by the confidence people have shown in me,’’ Fiorentini said.

Reelected without opposition were mayors Robert J. Dolan of Melrose; Donna D. Holaday of Newburyport; Joseph A. Curtatone of Somerville; and Scott D. Galvin of Woburn.

No mayoral elections took place in Lawrence, Lynn, and Salem because the incumbents are midway through four-year terms.

Of the four other area communities holding elections Tuesday, Chelsea, Saugus, and Winthrop do not have a mayor, while Lowell’s mayor is chosen by the City Council from within its ranks.

In Winthrop, first-term Town Council president Jeffrey R. Turco was unseated by Peter Gill. A member of the Board of Assessors and former longtime Town Meeting member, Gill picked up 2,453 votes to 2,337 for Turco.

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