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Angelides wins, sets sights on November

Date: 9/11/2012

By Chris Maza

GREATER SPRINGFIELD — With the primary now behind her, Marie Angelides is glad that she can leave voter fraud in the past and focus on what really matters to the residents of the Second Hampden District.

Angelides, a Longmeadow selectman, soundly defeated former East Longmeadow Selectman Jack Villamaino in the Republican primary, 1340 to 177, for the chance to face off with Democratic incumbent Brian Ashe for his seat in the House of Representatives.

"I'm looking forward to moving on to the general election, moving past voter fraud and discussing the real issues and I look forward to debating Rep. Ashe," Angelides told Reminder Publications. "Since the last election, I have spent the past two years reading and getting to understand the issues the district faces and I think I'm better prepared to make a run at the House of Representatives now."

Turning her attention to Ashe, who defeated her by a count of 8,699 to 8232 in the 2010 general election for the same seat, Angelides said that not much has changed and that is a problem.

"I think the district has the same problems and because we haven't seen the creation of any real solutions, I think things are getting worse," she said.

Both Angelides and Ashe hit the ground running with their campaigns for November, holding signs and waving to passing motorists on Columbus Avenue in Springfield in front of the rear entrance to Forest Park as early as 7 a.m. on Sept. 7.

Ashe said a press release regarding his campaign was forthcoming and welcomed the opportunity to speak with the media.

Due to the irregularities found regarding unauthorized absentee ballot requests and party affiliation changes on behalf of a large number of East Longmeadow residents through an investigation conducted by his office, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin announced that his representatives would take over the oversight of the primary election and possibly the general election that will take place in November, though East Longmeadow Town Clerk Thomas Florence told Reminder Publications he has yet to hear anything regarding the November date.

According to Florence, a representative from Galvin's office as well as a town clerk from another local town, whom he declined to identify, were directly involved in Election Day operations.

"The process was very seamless and very transparent," he said. "They brought some great ideas and suggestions with the main goal being maintaining the integrity of this voting process."

Special protocols were put in place to allow voters who were affected by either having their political affiliation changed to cast their ballots without issue. Democrats w hose party affiliations were changed were highlighted on a separate list, allowing poll workers to verify their identity and those who had absentee ballots taken out in their name without their permission were allowed to vote on site after the completion of a certificate to vote in person by Florence.

More than 500 voters in the three East Longmeadow precincts in the Second Hampden District took out Republican ballots with 449 voting in favor of Angelides and 77 for Villamaino. In fact, Florence said, approximately 20 percent of the 11,000 registered voters in East Longmeadow came to the polls.

"All in all, the word I would use to describe it is encouraging," he said. "It was great to see 20 percent of registered voters out there. From looking at data from prior state primaries, it looks like we doubled our regular turnout for these kinds of elections.

"It think what is going on maybe led to larger interest and people wanted to see if the integrity of the process was still there and I think they left satisfied that it is," he continued.

Angelides' largest margin of victory was in Longmeadow, where she took 93 percent of the vote, 546 to 44. She also won Monson (171 to 32) and Hampden (174 to 24) handily.

Villamaino did not run an active campaign after several media reports tied him to the voter registration fraud scheme. He consistently ignored media requests for comment and disabled his campaign website and Facebook page prior to the election and he did not make a scheduled appearance at a candidates forum on 22News on Aug. 29. He also resigned from his position as chair of the East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen.

Despite the fact that Villamaino effectively disappeared from the race, Angelides said she took nothing for granted heading into Election Day.

"I don't think we can say that anything involving this primary was what we've expected," Angelides said.