Local Republicans, Democrats echo national discussion after election

MIKE LABELLA/Staff photoA group of women who are members of Catholic parishes in Haverhill hold a rally Nov. 7 next to GAR Park to show their support for Donald Trump and for police. They are, from left, Claire Brugnani, Rita Murray, Dianne Young and Linda Brandolini.

These are arguments that are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Republicans and Democrats in Haverhill and across the Merrimack Valley mirrored the national conversation upon learning that the race for president had been called in favor of challenger Joe Biden over incumbent Donald Trump.

Democrats spoke of how Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris would work to heal the divisions sowed by the current administration over the last four years, while Republicans said court challenges should overturn the election and give the race to Trump.

"I am so grateful that we have elected a president who will reach out to all Americans, regardless of party, geography, race, gender, or economic status to help heal the great divide," said state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen.

"I think Trump should fight to the end," said New Hampshire Republican state Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, a co-chair of Trump's campaign in the Granite State, who attended a "Stop the Steal" rally in front of the State House in Concord on Saturday. "I'm not happy they allowed votes to be counted after Election Day."

Across the nation, people took to the streets, dancing, singing and waving signs denouncing Trump and praising the Biden/Harris ticket. Pro-Trump rallies were more subdued.

Locally, a group of women held a low-key rally supporting Trump on Bailey Boulevard in Haverhill the Saturday morning after the election.

Claire Brugnani, Rita Murray, Dianne Young and Linda Brandolini organized the event, holding signs and waving the American flag.

"The truth will prevail," Brandolini said. "But no matter what the outcome, our country must come together in unity, peace and love ... and love is the biggest thing because without love, we don't have anything."

Young noted the peaceful nature of the rally, which began at 7:30 a.m. and lasted a few hours.

"People flip us the bird and we blow them a kiss and send them blessings," Young said while waving at passing vehicles.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini, a Democrat, said the election showed the system works.

"This was a good day for America," said Fiorentini, who went out to dinner with his wife, Martha, to celebrate Biden's win. "It will still go through the courts, but there will be a peaceful transition of power. That's what makes America great."

He added, "We should all be celebrating. As a democracy during the pandemic millions of people turned out to vote. The election has been decided and there is no rioting in the streets and the armed insurrection never happened."

New Hampshire state Rep. Fred Doucette, a Republican from Salem who also serves as a co-chair of Trump's campaign in the Granite State, said it was premature for Biden to declare victory.

"There are still legitimate challenges," he said. "The process was not transparent."

He cited what he called a "lack of transparency" in Philadelphia and said last-minute rules changes skewed the results.

"These shenanigans need to be looked into before anyone is declared the winner," he said. "There are a multitude of question marks. We shouldn't be making any statements until every legal ballot is counted."

In Lawrence, Mayor Daniel Rivera praised poll workers for working so hard to count all the ballots.

"Every local official who made those counts, it was totally bipartisan and professional," he said. "These women and men counting ballots take their jobs very seriously."

He noted that Biden's election will bring a national plan on how to respond to COVID-19. As he spoke, the Biden team announced that a 12-person task force would be appointed last week to start work on just such a plan.

"COVID-19, COVID-19, COVID-19, those are the three most important issues facing the country today," said Rivera, whose city has been one of the hardest hit in the state with the deadly disease. "We will finally have leadership that will focus on creating a national policy to fight this virus."

He was also happy to see Trump defeated, saying the president "appealed to our basest instincts."

"We have racism in our nation, but he allowed it to be front and center," Rivera said. "Those voices need to be shamed. He encouraged racists, xenophobes and homophobes. That's not right."

Methuen Mayor Neil Perry said the results show the country is still divided but added, "I have hope the country can start to put partisanship issues aside and work together on what's best for all of us. Communities are hurting and we need a Washington that will work together for all of America."

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, who represents Haverhill, agreed, saying the election showed that "this country and a house divided cannot stand. Much work needs to be done, so I'm thankful that Biden has committed to being the president for everyone, regardless of who voted for him, as this is what it's going to take to bring our great nation together."

Reporter Mike Labella contributed to this story.

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