End of an (Election) Season

Blue Shamrock Election Results: Large crowd viewing projection.

Blue Shamrock Election Results

Yesterday, the Lowell election wrapped up. Here’s the City Manager’s blog with results. Aurora and I decided to take part in what appears to be a Lowell tradition, and went to the Blue Shamrock to watch the results with a drink. It was a small spectacle: both LTA and WCAP were broadcasting live starting at 8:00 pm. American flags and bunting decorated the normally spartan bar. However, the scene didn’t really start hopping until later in the evening, as candidates and their supporters filtered in. Soon, the room was filled with young and old staring at the projected spreadsheet, which election officials filled in real time. Meanwhile, the media provided commentary.

LTC Panel and Camera: Chris Scott, Steve Panagiotakos, Eileen Donoghue, Dick Howe Jr.

LTC broadcast left to right: Cameraperson, Chris Scott, Steve Panagiotakos, State Senator Eileen Donoghue, Dick Howe Jr.

A few things struck me this election. The Sun’s Lyle Moran did a few on-the-street interviews, and one member of the Greek community said, “What really brought me out, more than which I would have been…” was Mayor’s Murphy’s use in a campaign party of the bust of Pericles donated by the Greek community. The voter was angry at several candidates (Mr. Nuon and Mr. Martin in particular) who “spoke for” the Mayor as well. It is no surprise these issues of trust, respect, and personality came up in the on-the-street interviews more than policy.

Secondly, buried in a Sun story with more on-the-street interviews is one voter’s perspective that his friends don’t vote because they don’t know who to vote for–there’s no (D) or (R) next to their name. This is something that I haven’t experienced before, as every city I’ve lived in has had partisan elections. The unfortunate thing is that party policy isn’t as strong in local government. For example, where do republicans stand on backyard chickens? How do democrats feel about moving Lowell High School? Yet residents live busy lives. Even if local government directly effects them, it’s a huge task to even learn who’s running, let alone get a feel for how they may react to issues that may come up in two years. It may be an argument for more constant, two-way citizen education and engagement from multiple sources, meeting citizens where they’re at (even “unknockable” places).

Finally, Derek Mitchell’s campaign posted a video in which he addresses his supporters. For anybody who supported a candidate that didn’t make the top nine, these words are quite inspirational:

I’ll end this post with some Facebook posts or tweets from those who will hopefully find a way to contribute to Lowell in one form or another for the next two years, even if not as a councilor:

Van Pech (who also gave a press release to richardhowe.com): Thank you everyone for all your help and support during this campaign and amazing journey. I met some amazing people and formed great bonds with equal number of amazing people. So many people have inspired me through this process. Lowell has a great future.

Stacie Hargis:

Vesna NuonI want to express my good wishes to all those who have been elected and my gratitude to those who supported me in my campaign for Lowell City Council. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish for my neighborhood, my community and my city, and hope that those now entrusted with the responsibility to represent all of Lowell and its diverse residents do their job to the best of their ability and in the best interest of everyone in our great city.

Marty LorreyMarty thanks everyone who has given him support over the last two years. His efforts toward increasing recreational programs and improvements toward our quality of life in Lowell were initiatives he ran on successfully in 2011. It was an honor for him to serve the city of Lowell!

Genevieve DoyleThank you everyone! This was one heck of a ride. Now we have 2 yrs to plan

Eric Gitschier: Thank you to everyone who voted tonight. Thank you to everyone who helped with our campaign. We worked hard and came up short but we met good people and had fun doing it. Thanks again congrats to all nine Councilors elected tonight. We will be well represented. Good night

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7 thoughts on “End of an (Election) Season

  1. Thank you for posting my comments. I love our City and wish everyone nothing but the best. Over the next two years we are facing many challengers such as public safety, economic development, municipal budgets, our schools, infrastructure, taxes and much more. But before we can continue to move our City forward we need to work as a team with one goal in mind making our City a better place for the future.

    I enjoyed all 17 candidates that ran for City Council and their families. We treated each other with respect and I am proud of the nine that got elected and just as proud of the nine that didn’t. The paper, the blogs, and all of us need to let them do their jobs and give them a chance to become one. Keep their focus on what’s best for our city not personalities. That would be in the best interest of all 107,000 residents. It maybe the end of election season but it’s the beginning of our future. Thanks again!!

    Sincerely,

    Erik Gitschier

    • Thank you for commenting, Mr. Gitschier! I’m very happy that there was a civil campaign and many important issues were discussed. I value all those who take the time and put themselves out for public criticism. I think it’s a good point not to focus too much on personalities, but I feel I would be remiss not to say that media (social and professional) has an important role in allowing citizen oversight and engagement, so long as it focuses on information and not sensationalism. I would not want to destroy constructive debate in the community while trying to manage bickering and obstructionism.

      That said, I really do appreciate the level of respect candidates showed for one another during the campaign and willingness to hold close to convictions while working toward consensus. Thank you again!

  2. I get the impression that the two of you are young,tech savy and looking to get more involved in local politics. From my perspective you would be natural political allies to the Mitchell and Hargis campaigns. I’m curious what your expectations were before 8pm Tuesday? Was Tuesday predictable or surprising ? I only ask because I feel that a lot of the new professionals moving into the city flock towards people that are politically similar and I wonder if it creates an echo chamber that could be misleading and shocking on a night like Tuesday.

    P.S- I have no agenda. I crave information. I think that the two of you are a perfect case study in current Lowell politics.

    • Hiya Joe. I’ll field this one, speaking for just myself here.

      I bristle a little bit at speaking for my demographic, because of course I am my own special snowflake. That said, no, I definitely was not shocked that none of the younger candidates made it above the fold. I’d seen the prelims. I did hope that voter turnout might change things in any number of ways, but I wouldn’t say I was blindsided when it didn’t.

  3. I should clarify. Asking you to speak for a group of people is insanely unfair. I think your site is a great place to have a conversation about the election results. It’s also a great place for the what went right and what went wrong debate. Just know if I leave a comment ending in a question it’s not directed just to the folks that run the site. It’s too the readers and and anyone else that hopefully has an opinion.

  4. My first question is about social media. Facebook,twitter etc… When it comes to national or state elections social media is an absolute political weapon. Yet in our election it had little to no impact. I have heard and read some younger people in the city questioning the results based on social media. Candidates A and B had no website. They were not active on twitter. How can they beat candidates C and D who have 500 friends and twitter followers? It doesn’t add up to a lot of the tech savy younger voters. Is the answer to this question as simple as age? It might be but there must be other factors. I think the first question any young first time candidate should ask themselves is how can I politically weaponize social media in the city of Lowell ? And if anybody wants to debate me on the impact of social media in our election I would simply ask them this. Of the nine winners on tuesday what three candidates won the social media battle? I followed this election as closely as anyone and I do not think I can even name one.

  5. I agree with your assessment in that those who seemed to have the strongest “online” presence did not make it to the top nine. However, I think it might be oversimplifying to say that therefore social media had no effect on the election. I’ve heard some of the candidates did very well for first-timers. In the precincts that contain downtown condos, etc, the winners looked very different.

    I wouldn’t know how to answer your question about how to more effectively reach the “twitter crowd.” I imagine some folks more savvy than I are examining which demographics (income, gender, race) voted, which stayed home, and what their key issues are. I think those are key questions in giving people more access to civic engagement, and I would really love to hear the results.

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