Incumbent mayors in several Massachusetts communities face spirited challenges Tuesday, as voters prepare to elect new mayors in other cities where there were no incumbents on the ballot.
The stakes were especially high in Springfield, the state's third-largest city, where the mayor's term is expanding from two years to four years under a recent charter change. Mayor Domenic Sarno, who has served two shorter terms, was trying to fend off a challenge from City Council President Jose Tosado.
Sarno has pointed to the city's improved financial standing and to his leadership after a devastating tornado in June.
Tosado, who if elected would be the city's first Latino mayor, has criticized the incumbent for not doing enough to stem violent crime or control mismanagement in the city's school department.
The Springfield election was to be monitored by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department as a result of a prior lawsuit alleging that the rights of minority voters were violated.
In New Bedford, state Rep. Antonio Cabral and Jon Mitchell, a federal prosecutor, were dueling to succeed Mayor Scott Lang, who chose not to seek a fourth term. Both Cabral and Mitchell have stressed job creation in a city with a 10.3 percent unemployment rate in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Worcester, the state's second-largest city, will also have a new mayor after Tuesday's election. Former Mayor Konstantina Lukes, Joseph Petty, William Coleman and Carmen Carmona are vying to succeed outgoing Mayor Joseph O'Brien.
Under Worcester's city manager form of government, the mayor presides over the city council and school committee, but is not an administrator.
Northampton voters have a choice between between two members of the city council, David Narkewicz and Michael Bardsley, to succeed Mary Claire Higgins, who recently left the mayor's job to head a nonprofit group. Narkewicz is currently serving as the city's acting mayor.
There was also no mayoral incumbent on the ballot in the cities of Malden, Peabody, Pittsfield, Revere, Taunton, West Springfield and Methuen.
Among the other incumbents who were expected to face strong competition on Tuesday was Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, the state's first female Asian-American mayor, who was being challenged by Joseph Solomito, a city councilor and former police officer and prosecutor.
In Beverly, Mayor William Scanlon, who has served a total of eight terms in two separate stints at City Hall, was trying to fend off a challenge from City Council President Mike Cahill.
In Holyoke, Alex Morse, a 22-year-old recent Brown University graduate, was attempting to derail Mayor Elaine Pluta's bid for a second term. Morse topped the balloting in the preliminary election, besting Pluta by a single vote.
There is no mayoral election in Boston, where Mayor Thomas Menino is midway through a record fifth term in office. Seven candidates are vying for four at-large seats on the city council, among them Michael Flaherty, a former councilor who was defeated by Menino in the 2009 mayoral election.
Polls in most communities are generally open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
This program aired on November 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.