WOBURN - Mayor Scott Galvin yesterday marched one-step closer to capturing a record-setting sixth term by easily winning the top spot in a three-way Preliminary Election, but political newcomer Elizabeth Pedrini still stands in the incumbent's way.
According to unofficial results from City Clerk William Campbell's office, the incumbent mayor finished the night with 2,445 ballots cast in his favor, a tally that equated to roughly 67.5 percent of all votes cast during Tuesday's Preliminary.
Also advancing to the final election on Nov. 5, Samoset Road's Pedrini, an area real-estate agent, won second place with 767 votes.
Kerstin Lochrie, whose supporters cast 348 votes in favor of her mayoral candidacy, was knocked off the general election ballot with her third-place finish.
Roughly 13.6 percent of Woburn's electorate turned out to the polls on Tuesday. Though the city clerk always hopes for broader voter interest in such races, yesterday's participation rate did exceed Campbell's expectations.
The city's top elections officer had predicted a 10 percent turnout yesterday, a forecast that Campbell based off of recent absentee balloting activity.
"It's not a great turnout, but it's better than we thought," explained the city clerk in a phone interview on Wednesday morning. "The absentees were very low. We had 94 total [submitted], which is extremely low. For some elections we have 400, 800, or even 1,200 [absentee ballots]."
In previous preliminary races featuring a mayoral challenge, voter interest has been much higher. For example in 2009, when three sitting aldermen announced they would be challenging then incumbent Mayor Thomas McLaughlin, approximately 29 percent of the city's electorate turned out to the Preliminary Election.
Ultimately, Galvin, at that time a Ward 3 aldermen, surprised many by topping the ticket over McLaughlin during that 2009 preliminary race. Galvin later went on to win the general election.
This morning, Campbell speculated that yesterday's low turnout — when contrasted with the 2009 results — had to do with Pedrini and Lochrie's status as first-time candidates for municipal office.
"Normally a contested mayor's race is probably within the 25 percent range. [But when you look at the turnout in 2009], that was with four known candidates, including three sitting alderman and an incumbent mayor," said Campbell.
Come November, Galvin will be chasing history by seeking to become only the third city executive to win six-terms in City Hall's corner office. Since Woburn shifted to two-year mayoral terms back in 1931, only former Mayors John Rabbitt and William Kane, both of whom served six-terms, have been in office longer than Galvin.
The municipal elections in November should attract far more citizen interest than yesterday's preliminary races.
Besides featuring the final showdown between Galvin and Pedrini, there are three contested races for ward aldermen and a crowded-field of candidates for School Committee.
On Nov. 5, voters will also sweep at least three new elected leaders into office, as Ward 3 Alderman Mark Gaffney and School Committee members Rick Metters and Joseph Demers are not seeking re-election.
A full list of the election candidates follows (incumbents are denoted with an "i"):
Alderman at-large (two seats)
i-Robert Ferullo Jr.
Ward 1 Alderman
Ward 2 Alderman
Ward 3 Alderman
Ward 4 Alderman
Ward 5 Alderman
Ward 6 Alderman
Ward 7 Alderman
School Committee (5 seats)
i-John M. Wells