Haverhill residents showed in the state primary election that they stand behind their hometown candidates.
Republican Shaun Toohey and Democrat Tim Coco received the majority of votes cast in the city in last week’s 1st Essex District state Senate election.
While Toohey’s success extended beyond Haverhill, bringing him the popular Republican vote throughout the district, Democrat Coco received a lack of support from other communities, leaving him in second place overall to Newburyport City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives.
That sets up a race between Ives and Toohey for the seat that was left vacant when Democrat Steven Baddour resigned to become a lawyer at McDermott, Will & Emery in April. Ives and Toohey will be challenged by a politician familiar to Haverhill residents — Toohey’s fellow School Committee member Paul Magliochetti, who is running as an independent. Also running as an independent will be Amesbury City Councilor James Kelcourse.
Toohey won his primary decisively, receiving almost 2,000 more votes than Sam Meas of Haverhill. In Haverhill, Toohey received 1,411 votes to 761 for Meas. Toohey also won each community in the district by at least 100 votes.
On the Democratic side, Coco won his hometown of Haverhill by a landslide. He received 1,674 votes in Haverhill, while former Methuen Mayor William Manzi received 682 votes in the city. Overall winner Ives finished third in Haverhill with 548 votes.
“It was great to see the vote that (Coco) got in Haverhill,” said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. “He ran a great campaign.”
Ives made her mark in the seacoast towns. She had big victories in Newburyport, Amesbury, Merrimac and Salisbury to take 4,028 votes overall to Coco’s 3,324.
Geography will likely play a large role in November’s general election, which has two candidates from the seacoast and two candidates from the Merrimack Valley.
“The three biggest factors will likely be geography, gender and party affiliation,” Fiorentini said. “And maybe people will put stock in the issues, too.”
In other races affecting Haverhill, Jon Golnik of Carlisle defeated Tom Weaver of Westford handily to win the Republican seat in the 5th District of the U.S. House of Representatives primary. Golnik will face incumbent Nikki Tsongas in the general election on Nov. 6.
Haverhill also helped play a hand in the region’s biggest upsets of the primary. The city’s voters helped Diana DiZoglio upset incumbent David Torrisi in the Democratic primary for the 14th Essex District of the Massachusetts House.
While some of the results were unexpected, the item that stood out the most to Fiorentini was the voter turnout. Only 13 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots, something that Fiorentini was upset about.
“The incredibly low turnout shocked me,” he said, “especially in the Mount Washington area, where only 5 percent of the registered voters showed up to vote. That area used to be a mainstay of the Democratic party.”
Fiorentini said voter apathy bothers him deeply.
“I meet people all the time who proudly say they don’t vote,” he said. “The voter participation levels are so low that it undermines the meaning of democracy. It’s the people that govern.”
The mayor said the city put up flashing sign boards a day before the election, encouraging people to vote. He also suggested voter registration drives as a way to attract people to the polls.
“There are a lot of people who are just lazy,” Fiorentini said. “I tell them that my job is to run the city, but you have a job, too. Your job is to vote and to pay attention.”
Fiorentini also cited the fact that this was a primary and that it was held on a Thursday rather than a customary Tuesday, which may have contributed to the poor turnout.