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Johnson, Calabrese in Agawam mayoral race showdown

Date: 10/18/2023

AGAWAM — Christopher Johnson and Cecilia Calabrese will meet in the Nov. 7 election for mayor, after finishing first and second in the Oct. 10 preliminary election, ahead of William Clark and Andy Montefusco.

Johnson, a former mayor and current City Council president, led the preliminary race with 1,077 votes. Calabrese, also a current city councilor, came second with 640 votes. Clark received 237 votes and Montefusco received 58. There were 16 write-in votes. A total of 2,028 ballots were cast, representing 9.22% of Agawam’s registered voters.

“I’m very pleased and honored the people of Agawam have chosen me as one of the two finalists,” said Johnson. “I was very happy that the hard work that we put in before the preliminary paid off.”

Johnson said he believed this prior experience resonated with voters, including his 10 years as Agawam’s first mayor in the 1990s. He said that voters appreciated the hard work he put in during his tenure and wanted to see him back in office.

“I’m grateful for those that came out and supported me,” he said.

Calabrese said that the results were as she expected. She said it was a challenge going against “a career politician” but also described her volunteers as dedicated.

“That night, I gained so many more volunteers and supporters,” she said. “I’m really encouraged by what I’m hearing.”

In an email, she wrote that she thinks she resonated with voters because they wanted a “fresh perspective from someone that has the experience to work within the Agawam municipal government to move Agawam forward.”

With the low voter turnout, Calabrese wrote she believes her campaign has room to grow. She hopes to close and overcome the gap to Johnson by talking to voters.

“I will work tirelessly every day to get myself in front of the voters to let them get to know me better,” she wrote.

Like Johnson, Calabrese has run several townwide campaigns, serving multiple terms on the City Council and mounting a bid for state Senate last year. She served six years as vice president of the council, including 2019 to 2022 as Johnson’s deputy.

Johnson had previously stated he wanted to continue the path started by incumbent Mayor William Sapelli, specifically with the “spirit of cooperation” in Agawam’s government. A top issue of his was a renovation or replacement of the Agawam High School building, where he hoped to have community involvement. Calabrese had previously stated she wanted to reduce property taxes, “harden” schools, and increase Chapter 90 money for infrastructure.

Montefusco thanked everyone who took the time to vote for him. He reacted more to the low turnout than the results: “I just can’t believe that that many people don’t get involved in this town,” he said.

Montefusco said he feels he proved that any common-sense person is able to run for mayor. He noted that he had no previous experience with politics, and yet he still managed to figure it out. He is proud of that accomplishment.

“I did it all by myself,” he said. “I worked every single day and I somehow found the time to do everything.”

Clark did not respond to requests for comment.

Polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, for the general election, which also includes contested races for City Council and School Committee.

Voters can find their polling station at

Absentee ballot applications, for those who qualify, can be found at

Prospective voters who have not yet registered have until Friday, Oct. 27, to do so at the clerk’s office in Town Hall, 36 Main St..