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Here are the two Mass. House races headed to recounts

Voters fill out their ballots at the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Voters fill out their ballots at the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here


It’s December, which means — according to public opinion — it’s officially OK to put up holiday lights. Right on cue, Boston is hosting leaders from Nova Scotia tonight at 7 p.m. for the lighting of the Common’s Christmas tree. (Don’t miss yesterday’s episode of The Common on the history of the tradition with our Canadian neighbors.)

The results of the Nov. 8 election in Massachusetts have officially been certified — but it’s not all over yet. Two razor-thin State House races are officially headed to hand recounts after the final margin between the candidates in both races ended up being less than 0.1%. Here’s where the two contests stand:

  • Second Essex District (which includes Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, West Newbury, and parts of Boxford and Haverhill): incumbent Republican state Rep. Leonard Mirra holds a 10-vote lead over Democratic challenger Kristin Kassner out of the 23,509 total votes cast.
  • First Middlesex District (which includes Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend and part of Ayer): Democrat Margaret Scarsdale has a 17-vote lead over Republican Andrew Shepherd out of 19,910 votes cast in the open race to succeed GOP state Rep. Sheila Harrington, who was nominated to be a judge.
  • What’s next: WBUR’s Steve Brown reports the recounts will be scheduled by local officials at some point between Dec. 3 and Dec 10. If Scarsdale holds onto her lead, she would flip a seat that’s been in GOP hands for decades, further consolidating Democratic supermajorities in the House and Senate.

Recreational marijuana is now legal to buy in Rhode Island. Under a law passed earlier this year, five of the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries become hybrid shops today, meaning they’ll sell adult-use cannabis, too. WPRI has a list of the shops here.

  • The big picture: a total of 21 states have now legalized recreational marijuana. Rhode Island is the fourth New England state to legalize sales, joining Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. (Connecticut has legalized adult possession, but is still working to set up shops; New Hampshire only allows medical marijuana.)

Your next trip to Acadia National Park in Maine could be a tad more expensive. Maine Public reports that park officials want to raise entrance fees in the new year, with the intention of using most of the additional money to expand the Island Explorer bus system.

  • How much? The proposal would raise the weeklong entrance fee for private vehicles from $30 to $35, while the park’s annual pass would see the biggest jump — from $55 to $70. Weekly passes for cyclists and pedestrians would also go from $15 to $20. And the weekly pass for motorcyclists would go from $25 to $30.

Who let the dogs out? Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. Maybe. She is floating a rule change that would allow dogs to go unleashed in some of the city’s parks — at least at certain times. (Currently, dogs must always be leashed at all of Medford’s parks.)

  • Why the change? Lungo-Koehn told WBUR that it would give dogs the “opportunity to get more exercise, burn up energy, and then when they do so, they interact with others more calmly.”
  • Bark about it: Medford residents have exactly two more weeks to weigh in on the idea by filling out this online survey.

Heads up: The New England Patriots have another primetime Thursday night game tonight against the Buffalo Bills. It’s a matchup between two winning teams with high stakes for the AFC playoff picture.

Also kicking off tonight: The Boston Pops’ Holiday Pops season. The orchestra has a busy schedule ahead, with 34 shows between now and Christmas Eve. And for the first time since 2019, this season also includes the return of conductor Keith Lockhart’s favorite part of the concerts: sing-alongs.

P.S.— Are you looking for a new job? Or know someone who is? Come work with us! WBUR’s news team has over a half-dozen open roles, from producer to reporter to editor. There’s even a spot open on our growing newsletter team! Check out the full list here.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Twitter Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.

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