WORCESTER – In what has already been a very peculiar election season to date, it took another twist on Thursday evening.

In a press release sent Thursday, City Councilor-at-Large Michael T. Gaffney blasted a mailing that was sent out to Worcester voters from the Worcester Democratic City Committee.

In the release, Gaffney argued that the mailer is claiming that he, and his wife Coreen – who is on the ballot as a candidate for District 4 City Council – endorsed candidates in the upcoming City Council election.

The most shocking portion of the release, however, was the Gaffneys announcement that they would indeed hold office if elected on Tuesday in Worcester’s municipal election.

“Be advised, should the good people of Worcester choose to elect either of us, we will serve out our term to the best of our ability as we refuse to let this crew of despicable liars engage in this type of behavior,“ Gaffney said in a release.

Gaffney told ThisWeekinWorcester.com on Thursday evening that he will not take a salary or benefits.

“I will not be able to attend the majority of meetings, but will attend budget and tax rate classification,” Gaffney added.

The mailer, which arrived at homes on Thursday showed the quote that the Gaffney’s stated in their Oct. 16 press release in which they withdrew from the election.

“A mailer was sent out today on behalf of Joe Petty, Moe Bergman, Khystian King, Ben Straight, Kate Toomey, Sean Rose, Candy Mero-Carlson, George Russell, Sarai Rivera, and Matt Wally by the Worcester Democratic City Committee that claims that Coreen and I endorsed them,” Gaffney said in the press release.

“This is a disgusting lie being perpetrated against the voters of Worcester and a new low by those involved.” The statement continued “We have not endorsed any of the involved perpetrators. Their reprehensible behavior as to fake an endorsement speaks to a complete lack of moral character.”

Worcester Democratic City Committee Chairwoman Candy Mero-Carlson said the mailer was not a Gaffney endorsement, rather than highlighting that the Gaffney’s had in fact withdrawn from the race and used their quote from the October 16 statement.

“This is something we generally do. We send out to all registered Democrats the candidates we endorse,”Mero-Carlson said in a phone interview on Thursday night. “I don’t agree with his analogy. We clearly identified their quote from their statement.”

“What does that mean?” Mero-Carlson said about the possibility of the Gaffney’s serving the term if elected. “You’re either in or you’re out.”

The topic of the Gaffney’s has consumed this election cycle since their announcement of withdrawal. There has been speculation for weeks that the Gaffney’s had been running a “stealth” campaign and really never had any intention of withdrawing because their names are still on the ballot.

Gaffney fueled that speculation more with his statement about remaining in office if elected.

The Municipal Election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

WORCESTER – The only challenger in the Worcester School Committee race has filed more than $45,000 in campaign receipts prior to Tuesday’s election. This amount is nearly $30,000 more than the six incumbent committee members combined for 2017.

Dante Comparetto

Dante Comparetto, one of seven school committee candidates and the only non-incumbent, reported the highest number of receipts for a school committee campaign in recent memory. Over the past five years, the highest in campaign receipts was just over $14,000 from incumbent Donna Colorio in 2015 — nearly $30,000 less than Comparetto’s 2017 receipts.

During the calendar year of 2017, Comparetto reported $45,316 in receipts. An additional $10,362 in campaign receipts was filed between July and December 2016.

According to Comparetto’s campaign finance report ending on Monday, Oct. 30, Comparetto had nearly $8k in campaign finances carried over from 2016. When combined with 2017’s fundraising, Comparetto had just over $53k in receipts since the start of his campaign. Comparetto spent more than $45,500 in 2017 — leaving him with a balance of $7,664.20 at the end of October.

Although Comparetto began 2017 with $7,836 in campaign funding leftover from 2016, over the course of the first 10 months of 2017, Comparetto made three separate donations to his campaign from his own personal finances totaling $28,150 [$16,000 (4/24/17), $7200 (10/5/17), and $4950 (10/19/17).

In other words, Comparetto contributed all but $17,166 to his campaign — roughly 62 percent of the fundraising in 2017.

These aren’t small sums considering members of the school committee are only paid $15,000/year.

In an interview on Thursday evening, Comparetto said, “In any grassroot campaign, delivering messages is expensive. We are putting our values into the campaign. We believe that paying our youth is important And we’ve hired a very capable campaign manager in Italo Fini who happened to graduate from high school this year. Without him, we wouldn’t have had the success we have had.”

The 19-year-old Fini was paid $8,000 by Comparetto’s campaign for consulting. According to Fini’s Facebook page, he is Comparetto’s campaign manager – earning more than half of what Comparetto would earn if elected in his first year as school committee member.

2017 Summary Campaign Finance Filings for Dante Comparetto

“I’m proud of the support we’ve received and our fundraising efforts, ” Comparetto said. “We’ve been aggressively fundraising since the beginning of the year. I’ve had fundraisers and have been calling for contributions. That’s how it’s done.”

Compared to the fundraising of the six incumbents, Comparetto’s fundraising receipts are substantially larger. The following are the receipt totals for Comparetto’s challengers:

To put it in perspective, for the past five years, O’Connell has had the same amount in his campaign finance account – $708.12.

Even further, Comparetto has raised nearly as much as Mayor Joseph M. Petty’s $49,000 in fundraising for his re-election campaign.  

“Honestly, I’m not running for the money. I’m running to create some change and do some good things in the school committee. I’ve identified a number of issues that need to be worked on. I’m not doing this for money,” Comparetto said.

Over the course of 2017, Comparetto spent nearly $20,000  on campaign advertising materials such as mailers, flyers and signs with Worcester-based company Campaigns That Win run by Don Shortman and Mark Carron.

In comparison, the incumbents spent a total of $5,639.20 on all of their advertising materials, according to the financial filings. O’Connell and Foley didn’t spend any money to advertise.

Further, in a recent submitted response to ThisWeekinWorcester answering the questions of why Worcester residents should vote for him, Comparetto stated that he is the owner of Pure Juz, which he describes as “a socially responsible juice bar.”

However, according to filings with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [SOC],  the business – which operates under Woo Juice, Inc. – is listed as dissolved on June 30, 2017 by court order or by the SOC. 

In response, Comparetto said that Pure Juz has a license to operate in the town of Shrewsbury with the Food Hub inside the Worcester County Food Bank and has not dissolved.

Comparetto also said that he is working on moving the business into a new dorm on campus at WPI in Worcester.

“We are doing really well with Pure Juz. We see those investments and our campaign contributions as important investments. We are investing, essentially, in our city’s future and our children’s future and I think it’s worth it,” Comparetto said.

The Worcester Municipal election is Tuesday, November 7. For more information on this year’s city council and school committee candidates, click here: ThisWeekinWorcester’s Municipal Election Candidate Profile Page.

WORCESTER – Worcester’s mayoral election took an unexpected turn last week when City Councilor At-Large Michael T. Gaffney announced he wouldn’t be running against incumbent Mayor Joseph M. Petty this fall.

Gaffney’s absence in the coming election has opened the door for former mayor and current Councilor At-Large Konstantina B. Lukes to throw her hat in the mayor’s race and challenge Petty.

In an email to TWIW on Sept. 25, when asked if he was surprised that Councilor Gaffney chose not to run for mayor, Mayor Petty said, “To be honest it was never a focus. No matter who ran my message would be the same:  I’m Standing Up for Worcester – Standing up for You. My focus is keeping Worcester moving in a forward, positive direction.”

In an interview with ThisWeekinWorcester.com on Wednesday, Sept. 20, Lukes said that she has always held the stance that all At-Large city council candidates should run for mayor.  

“It forces discussion on the issues that are facing the city,” Lukes said, while adding that the mayor of Worcester should never run unopposed.

Petty is seeking his eleventh term as Councilor At-Large and his fourth term as Mayor. Petty denied the rumors that this will be the last time he runs for mayor, noting that it’s “a little premature to talk about my next election when I have not won this election.”

Lukes is currently seeking her fifteenth two-year term on the city council and previously served as Mayor of Worcester from 2007 to 2009.

Councilor Lukes is an experienced elected official and has a lot of institutional knowledge.  She’s always prepared, always informed, and certainly formidable.  I look forward to a spirited debate on the issues,” Petty said about his opponent.

According to Petty, during this campaign season he is going to focus on running on his record as a three-time mayor – and would like to address the way Worcester keeps its streets clean, propose adding police officers and fire fighters, and push for making improvements and upgrades in our park system as well as city streets and sidewalks.

Petty said, Over the course of my tenure as mayor we have focused on a better quality of life: we have built schools, increased our bond rating to the highest point in our history, increased spending on our neighborhood parks and senior center, and seen the plans of a revitalized downtown finally come into focus.  Our streets are safer and we’re graduating students at the highest point ever.”

“Currently we have the lowest unemployment rate in our area in over 15 years, since 2001. So the question is not jobs but good-paying jobs. How we move forward together and make sure that everyone is sharing in our renaissance,” Petty added.

Among the issues that Councilor Lukes would like to bring to the forefront is Mayor Petty’s Tax Policy.  “[Petty] never took a stance on a report from his own committee,” Lukes said.

Petty said, “The nature of that report was exploring what options were on the table, not to endorse one specific idea or course of action.  That report has moved to both the Economic Development and Municipal Operations subcommittees to receive input from both the city council and the community.  The major need that was identified in that report was greater local control over our city’s ability to raise revenue.”

One issue that Lukes would like to work to improve upon if elected Mayor is the policy on Tax Increment Financing [TIF’s] for new development in the city.

“It’s a tool every city and state uses.  It forces cities and towns to compete with each other,” Lukes said.

Lukes brought this issue to the Council floor on Tuesday, Sept. 5 when she asked that the City Manager use an Urban Design Review when approving new development plans.

Councilor Lukes would like the TIF’s used to benefit both the city and the developers.  She proposes that the practice be utilized when developing decaying neighborhoods or to developers that will work towards restoring existing buildings.  

Speaking of new developments, Mayor Petty continues to support bringing the PawSox to Worcester and, according to Petty, discussions with the PawSox are ongoing and he hopes the city has some news soon.

Likewise, Councilor Lukes would still be open to welcoming a proposal from the Pawtucket Red Sox, although, according to Lukes, that seems unlikely with each passing day.

The Worcester municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 7. The final day to register to vote is Wednesday, Oct. 18.

WORCESTER – Following Tuesday’s district preliminary elections, two city council candidates each from Districts 1 and 5 have officially moved on to Worcester’s municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

In District 1, nonprofit executive director Sean M. Rose and Worcester business owner Edward L Moynihan earned enough votes over opponents Gerardo Schiano and Bill Coleman  to move on to the general election.

Clockwise From L to R: Sean Rose, Ed Moynihan, Matt Wally, and Paul Franco/ Photos by Matt Wright

Rose received the most votes with 1,035 (43 percent of the overall vote), and Moynihan was just behind him tallying 759 votes.

Schiano and Coleman received 399 and 212 votes each, respectively.

Moynihan and Rose are both running for office for first time. They are both looking to replace Tony Economou, who decided not to run for re-election.  Moynihan, who has campaigned on updating the city’s master plan, wants to attract more small businesses to the city.  Rose has been focusing on the quality of life for the city’s seniors.  The District 1 race could be the most watched race on November 7.

“We have some unfinished business,” Rose said Tuesday night. “We hoped that we would have fared better in [Ward 2], but we have to do a better job of getting our message out there.”

“Hard work paid off for us, but clearly we didn’t work hard enough,” Rose added.

Moynihan said, “I feel relieved that I came in the top two. I’m an unenrolled voter so I feel like I was the underdog going into this race and I still feel that way going into November.”

“[Rose] ran a great race and the race he needed to run to get the top spot. Now it’s me versus Sean and I have to work harder, work smarter and hit more doors. I’m going to have to be that much better and on the ball. I’m looking forward to November and I thank my voters,” Moynihan added.

Likewise, in District 5, Matt Wally and Paul Franco have defeated their younger opponents Doug Arbetter and Ben Champagne to advance to November’s election.

Wally earned 1,075  votes with Franco earning 673 votes. Arbetter was a close third, gathering 604 votes. Champagne was voted for 34 times.

“I didn’t put my name in as a candidate just to win the preliminary. I’m not popping the champagne yet by any means,” Wally said Tuesday night. “My showing was a recognition of my hard work and I think my message resonated.”

Wally, who ran an unsuccessful at-Large bid two years ago, has focused on infrastructure improvements to our city’s streets and sidewalks during his campaign.  Franco also wants to beautify Worcester, but believes a comprehensive recycling plan is a step in the right path.  They will be vying for the seat vacated by current district councilor Gary Rosen, who decided to run for an at-Large seat this election.

The final day for all remaining district and At-Large city council candidates, and school committee candidates, to decline nomination for election is Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The municipal election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

The last day to register to vote for Worcester’s municipal election is Wednesday, October 18. To register, visit the Massachusetts Online Voter Registration.