Politics

In a close race, Somerville chooses two progressive candidates for mayor

Current City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne will be on the ballot in November.

Somerville City Councilor at-Large Will Mbah (L) and Ward 7 Somerville City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne (R) will be competing for mayor in Somerville's November election. Handout, Marfione Studio

Like Boston, Somerville also voted in a hotly contested, historically diverse mayor’s race on Tuesday. According to unofficial results, current City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne will be on the ballot in November.

Somerville had four candidates on the ballot Tuesday: Mbah, Ballantyne, Mary Cassesso, and William “Billy” Tauro. It was a close race between the three progressive, Democratic candidates — Mbah, Ballantyne, and Cassesso — with Tauro lagging behind.

Mbah, an at-large councilor and state environmental analyst, took first place with 30% of the vote. In a statement to Boston.com, he thanked the voters and volunteers, and Ballantyne and Cassesso for running honorable campaigns.

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“Only in Somerville, could an immigrant from Cameroon be elected City Councilor and now have the opportunity to make this city a place for all those who dream of a better life,” Mbah said. “I’m incredibly proud of the grassroots campaign we ran, all without taking a dime of developer money. I look forward to using the coming weeks to speak with voters about my progressive vision for Somerville, which will include dramatically expanding our affordable housing, a Green New Deal for Somerville, a commitment to make developers pay their fair share, and making public transit accessible, efficient, and free for everyone.”

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Ballantyne thanked Somerville voters in a statement. 

“They’ve showed that they want the next mayor to share our progressive values, be an inclusive leader, and have the skills and experience to lead our dynamic city on day one,” she said. “I’m looking forward to earning the support of Somerville voters across the city in November.”

Mbah received 4,498 votes and Ballantyne received 4,162 votes — putting them in the lead and on the November ballot — but Cassesso was not far behind, with 4,083 votes. Tauro received 2,215 votes. 

Somerville Elections Commissioner Nicholas Salerno told Boston.com his office counted 12,124 ballots Tuesday, only about 10% of which were early or mail-in ballots. Official results, which include provisional, overseas, and military ballots, as well as a standard recount, will be posted in six to ten days. Salerno said a close race would be considered within 10 votes or less, and the machines are pretty accurate, so he doesn’t expect the results to change much.

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Cassesso’s campaign told Boston.com she had not released a statement on the results, but will soon.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone told Boston.com he was not surprised by Tuesday’s results, and believes Somerville chose candidates that represent its community values. He noted that Cassesso was a first-time candidate, and praised her for running an excellent campaign.

“There were three highly ethical, progressive, hard working candidates, and I’m not surprised Somerville had a choice among those three well-qualified candidates,” he said. “They should all be commended on a job well done. …I’m proud of the city, there’s no pulling one over the voters of this city, people will come out and vote based on our values, and they voted for those three candidates.”

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