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LaChapelle elected Easthampton mayor

  • Nicole M. LaChapelle

  • Joy E. Winnie 

  • Former Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik logs election results during mayoral candidate Joy Winnie's gathering Tuesday at Eastworks. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton mayoral candidate Joy Winnie, second from right, watches as election results are posted with Michelle Lussier, who was her assistant campaign manager, Buddy Raymond, her brother, and William Winnie, her husband, during her reception Tuesday at Eastworks. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton mayoral candidate Joy Winnie, second from right, watches as election results are posted with Michelle Lussier, who was her assistant campaign manager, Buddy Raymond, her brother, and Holly Gagnon, her sister, during her reception Tuesday at Eastworks. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nancy Sykes, right, who ran or Easthampton mayor against Karen Cadieux, talks with Sarah Shapiro while waiting for new mayor, Nicole LaChapelle, to arrive at The Brass Cat, Tuesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Newly elected Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle waves to a crowd of people gathered at The Brass Cat, Tuesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Newly elected Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, left, waves to a crowd of people gathered at The Brass Cat, Tuesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Newly elected Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, center left, shakes hands with Sarah Shapiro while greeting a crowd of people gathered at The Brass Cat, Tuesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton mayor-elect Nicole LaChapelle, center left, greets a crowd of people gathered at The Brass Cat following her election victory Tuesday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@kate_ashworth
Tuesday, November 07, 2017

EASTHAMPTON — Voters elected lawyer Nicole M. LaChapelle as the city’s third mayor on Tuesday in a hotly contested race that saw her defeat 21-year city councilor Joy E. Winnie.

LaChapelle received 2,718 votes to Winnie’s 2,294 votes, taking about 54 percent of the vote. LaChapelle won precincts, 1, 2, 3 and 4 while Winnie took Precinct 5.

LaChapelle, 50, has never held elected office and campaigned on a message of increasing transparency in city government and bringing new leadership to the mayor’s office. Her supporters crowded the Brass Cat on Cottage Street, cheering when the mayor-elect entered the bar at around 9:30 p.m.

LaChapelle said the most important message of the night is unity.

“I think it’s also a time to give every resident a vote, regardless of their color, their orientation, what they believe in, what they don’t believe in, they’re a resident and they have a seat at our table,” LaChapelle said. “Our table is going to get much, much bigger.”

“The best is yet to come,” LaChapelle said.

Meanwhile, at a suite in the Eastworks mill building on Pleasant Street, Winnie’s supporters gathered and reacted to news of Winnie’s loss.

“I chose to run a positive race, always taking the high road. For that, I have no regrets,” Winnie said.

“Tonight’s vote was a vote by the residents of Easthampton, that they want something different than what I had to offer them to keep our city going in the right direction,” Winnie said.

LaChapelle worked for 20 years for the Center for School Crisis Intervention and Assessment Inc. in Holyoke, including eight years as director. She has been working as an attorney, with a focus on civil rights advocacy, since 2016. She told the Gazette she will not practice law as mayor.

She is a member of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and raised approximately $35,000 in her campaign as of late October, outspending Winnie 4 to 1 in the campaign. It was the most money any candidate had raised in a mayoral contest since Easthampton changed to a city form of government.

For Winnie, 57, running for mayor means she had to give up her seat on the City Council representing Precinct 3.

Mayor Karen Cadieux, who announced earlier this year that she would not seek a third term, said Winnie has been dedicated to serving Easthampton.

“I’m proud of Joy for stepping up and doing this,” Cadieux said.

“The voters have spoken,” former mayor Michael Tautznik said. He supported Winnie throughout her campaign but said he’s hopeful in the mayor-elect. “If her heart’s in it, I think she’ll do a great job,” he said.

Of the 11,913 register voters, 5,053 cast ballots, drawing a 43 percent turnout.

The last city election in 2015 drew a 17 percent turnout where incumbent Mayor Karen Cadieux and all five precinct City Council candidates ran unopposed.

The first election in 1996, when Easthampton went from a town form of government to a city, drew a 58 percent turnout, according to City Clerk Barbara LaBombard.

Gail Nartowciz, the Precinct 1 warden, said the polls at White Brook Middle School had a steady turnout, adding that she had seen more younger people and families coming in to vote on Tuesday.

Precinct 3 warden Jeff Craig said he agrees that more people in their 20s and 30s were showing up to the polls. Craig said he’s worked at the polls for 21 years and said he’s used to the routine and flow of city elections, such as the trend of elderly people coming in the early morning. But this year, Craig said was different, and there’s also been a higher turnout than the last city election.

“Across the board there’s been the younger demographic,” he said.

Precinct 4 election clerk Bill D’Amato said a total of 480 people from the precinct voted in the 2015 election. By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, D’Amato said 700 people in Precinct 4 had cast ballots.

Outside Easthampton High School, LaChapelle’s mother, Donna O’Connor, held a sign supporting her daughter. She said she spent the morning calling residents to remind them to come out and vote.

“It’s nerve-racking,” O’Connor said, about five hours before the polls closed.

Winnie stood in front of the high school with her brother, Buddy Raymond, and daughter, Heather, as well as friends, who made a line of maroon “Joy Winnie for Mayor” signs along the sidewalk leading up to the school.

At White Brook Middle School, candidates for City Council held up signs aimed at making a last impression on voters heading to the polls. School Committee member and co-owner of Corsello Butcheria, Kasey Corsello, held up signs for Owen Zaret, Cinzia Pica-Smith and Margaret “Peg” Conniff as well as one for LaChapelle.

Corsello, who did not run for re-election, said she was on the fence about which mayoral candidate to vote for. But when a question came up in a forum regarding bias, she was set on voting for LaChapelle.

Alexandria Moynihan, chairwoman of the Easthampton Republican City Committee, declined to say who she voted for but said she’s looking for leaders who are fair-minded and fiscally conservative.

Gordon Yell, 54, has lived in Easthampton for his whole life and said he voted for LaChapelle for one reason: change.

“Joy Winnie has been here for way too long and we need change,” Yell said.

 He said city officials need to focus on revitalizing the New City section of  Easthampton.

One of Winnie’s supporters, Michael Garjian, said Winnie has the experience for the role as mayor. He said he supported Winnie’s plan to revisit the visioning process which resulted in the paving of the parking lot behind the Pleasant Street mill building and construction of Millside Park.

Garjian said he was not happy with the results.

“I think Easthampton is going to be changing its personality,” he said. “Only time will tell.”

Former Easthampton police chief Bruce McMahon also cast a ballot.

“It’s everyone’s civic duty to vote,” he said. “It’s one of the freedoms we have.”

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.This story has been updated to reflect corrected Precinct 5 voting totals issued by Easthampton’s city clerk on Wednesday morning.