Methuen voted yesterday, producing a turnout of under 32%. In the closest Mayor’s race in Methuen history Steve Zanni defeated Al Dinuccio by 28 votes, 4439 to 4411. Zanni reversed the result from the primary, where he had finished second to Dinuccio in a close race.
The turnout was 31%, with 8977 total votes cast. Zanni, in the primary, had been defeated in the West District, losing precinct 11 somewhat badly to Dinuccio. He reversed that in the general election, winning precinct 11 by 8 votes. He won the West District by 6 votes, sapping the Dinuccio strength and allowing him to withstand a 112 vote loss in the East District. Zanni made that up in the Central District, winning that District by 134 votes. (67 of those votes came from my home precinct of 6, the biggest individual precinct win for Zanni.) The numbers tell the story of a tight race, fought at the street and precinct level by both candidates.
The Zanni win can be attributable to a real change in strategy post primary. The campaign re-tooled, bringing in Bill Buckley to recharge the effort and focus the GOTV push. Phil Decologero also joined the campaign, and did a great job as well. The Zanni campaign recognized the critical importance of good field, and they went out and got it done. The story of this election is that Zanni field effort, and how it provided the roadmap to victory.
The other big winner in this Mayor’s race is the Firefighters local, who staked out early opposition to the Dinuccio campaign’s position on ambulance privatization. The Union, led by Tim Sheehy, put up a website attacking Dincuccio’s position on ambulance service, and worked tirelessly in the field for Zanni. The notion that labor support is not a positive was laid to rest in Methuen. But the lesson learned for labor is that simply issuing support letters is no longer sufficient: Either you get out on the streets and fight, or you lose. The Firefighters fought, and they won a big victory.
Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Steve Zanni, and best wishes to candidate Al Dinuccio, who ran a fine campaign, and peaked as far as his vote totals go. It is the closest Dinuccio has come to victory in his four tries for office in Methuen.