Sciarra, Warner to face off for mayor in Northampton

  • Residents of Northampton Wards 2 and 5B enter the gymnasium of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School to vote in the preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton resident Gregory Wilson pauses outside JFK Middle School after voting in the preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Wilson cast his vote during a break from being an election worker at precinct 7B at Leeds School. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michael Murphy, left, and Brigid Glackin check in with Northampton precinct 7A deputy warden Kim Melnik, seated, and election worker Jean Wainwright (obscured) in the community room of JFK Middle School to vote in the preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Submitted photo Submitted photo

  • GAZETTE STAFF PHOTO GAZETTE STAFF PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2021 10:15:50 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Voters in Tuesday’s preliminary mayoral election chose Gina-Louise Sciarra and Marc Warner to go head-to-head in the general election on Nov. 2.

Sciarra received 3,195 votes while Warner received 1,147, according to unofficial results reported by the city clerk’s office. About 24.5% of the city’s 21,389 registered voters turned out to cast ballots in person.

Sciarra, a city councilor for 8 years and the council president since 2019, and Warner, founder of Warner Transportation Consulting and a regular member of local government committees, will compete to replace Mayor David Narkewicz, who did not seek reelection.

Sciarra and Warner defeated Shanna Fishel, a social worker and former Boston public school teacher, and Roy Martin, a retired Marine Corps veteran making his 10th run for mayor. Fishel earned 734 votes and Martin earned 81.

Rosechana Gordon, who appeared on the ballot despite dropping out in August, received 31 votes.

In a Facebook post after the results came in, Fishel wrote, “I knew it was going to be an uphill battle.”

“We might not have won the race, but I believe wholeheartedly that what we’ve done in this campaign was important and will have a lasting impact,” Fishel wrote. “You’ll hear from me again in the coming days, but for now: thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Voters also eliminated Michelle Serra from the field of candidates for City Council at-large. The winners of Tuesday’s vote were Jamila Gore, Michael Quinlan, Marissa Elkins and David Murphy (see story below).

Sciarra sought the mayor’s office instead of reelection to her at-large City Council seat; longtime City Councilor At-Large Bill Dwight declined another run and endorsed Elkins.

The mayor serves a four-year term, while city councilors serve for two years.

Gregory Wilson, a poll worker at Leeds Elementary School, cast his own ballot at JFK Middle School during his afternoon break. He said he has voted in almost every election since 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon for the presidency.

“I may have missed one election when I was in basic training for the Air Force,” Wilson said, adding that he’s worked the Northampton polls in every election for six years. “It’s your duty as a citizen to turn out.”

Historically, preliminary elections are low-turnout affairs. According to records from the city clerk’s office, in 1999, turnout was 30%, and in 2005, when Martin lost while Mary Clare Higgins and Richard Feldman advanced, only 14% of voters cast ballots. The last mayoral or City Council preliminary election was in 2009, when turnout was 22%.

Wilson said that, watching voters file into the Leeds school, he could tell overall turnout was low. He said the rain showers that swept through the city during the day might have been a factor.

Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. is the deadline to register to vote in the general election.

The Nov. 2 ballot will feature a non-binding question asking voters if they support allowing the city to create a municipal light plant, which would be a city-owned company that could offer broadband internet service to residents and businesses in Northampton.

Narkewicz said in September that the vote is required before proceeding with broadband service, but that passing the question “will not commit the city to it (and) it will not commit the city to any spending.”

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.


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