Things I’m Reading This Week

Local Elections, Things I'm Reading

In a world of soundbites and social media and headlines you don’t even click on (guilty sometimes), I’ve fallen in love with longform journalism. Or as it used to be called: just journalism. I’m that annoying person who will read the entire Mother Jones article, leaving it up in a tab until dammit, I’ve finished the thing! I read a lot of stuff online, and then share it on Facebook when I love it, but then I thought to myself…self, I have a blog. Again. Why not have a curated list of articles I’ve read worthy of your full, longform attention? So maybe this will be a Thing. Or not, my brain can be fickle like that. If you like it, I’ll keep doing it. I am not above being bribed by flattery and eyeballs.

Basically I just am saving this post as a draft until the end of the week, adding things as I read them.

People Making Maps

Local Elections

So folks are starting to have some fun with the data Wayne posted yesterday (as mentioned in the previous post). In particular, Santiago Rodriguez Rey on Lowell Live Feed has created some precinct maps using shapefiles and that data. (Cue olde blogger griping: “Back in my day, sonny, we didn’t have such things as Google maps or shape files! Get off my lawn!”)

Not everyone is or wants to be on LLF, so I got permission to repost the maps he created. After all, this shiny new blog comes with a shiny new media uploading and management system. No more FTPing direct into site folders or using a third party embedding platform…Rwar, you kids have it so easy and why are you still on my lawn??

Data Nerds, Start Your Engines!

Local Elections

The esteemed and excellent Wayne J posted an open Google spreadsheet on Lowell Live Feed with the unofficial precinct by precinct election data for all candidates and the referendum (see other tabs there) from Tuesday’s election. (He also posted the ward/precinct map on request.) I am not the numbers person generally, but geek out, nerdlings, to your heart’s content. Of course, even though I’m really the paintbrush, keyboard, and HTML type, I might have a couple observations of snark interest here and there.

First up: What Happened In Ward 1?

There are no precincts that can hold a candle to 1-2 and 1-3 in elections. They had 1472 and 1247 vote cards cast, a 58% and 52% turnout, respectively. As Belvi goes, so goes Lowell, as they say. So naturally, any analysis has to take into account what happens there.

The first thing I noticed was vote totals for #1 vote getter Nuon, vs Mercier. (I know, I can’t help myself.) Wow, just wow. Belvi was Rita’s stomping ground. I don’t have the numbers per precinct and candidate from 2015 (I looked for it), but I’m guessing that her 438 and 297 finish in those two precincts (versus Nuon’s 832/723 and Kennedy’s 986/840) is less than she’s gotten there in the past. In 2015, Mercier had 6228 total votes (her total from Tuesday was 5730), so one imagines a lot of them had to have come from 1-2 and 1-3.

Turnout of extra voters obviously accounts for much of this difference too. Turnout in 2015 was 18%, versus a hair over 21% in 2017. That’s not as huge a difference as I though, but is 462 more voters in 1-2, and a 444 increase in 1-3 over 2015.

As much as I’d like this to be about Rita Mercier’s embrace of one Donald J. Trump last year, it’s very obvious that probably a majority of it is the high school issue. Karen Cirillo, a real newcomer who was very clear about her pro-downtown stance on the high school, not only made it onto the Council with her first campaign, which is virtually unheard of, but also beat Mercier in 1-2 and 1-3 with 743 and 702 votes. I’m a Cirillo supporter, and I think she’ll be great, but given recent local electoral history, Cirillo got a boost from being a part of the downtown “slate.” Not all downtown candidates made it, so obviously voters saw something in Karen to vote for besides that, but beating Rita Mercier on her home turf so definitively is definitely historic.

Hey 2-3, Where Are You Guys?

Something that puzzles me is that 2-3 has the highest number of registered voters, even more than 1-2, at 2650. And yet only 417 showed up, which is about a 16% turnout (rounded up). This is, of course, the heart of downtown. I suspect that the high registration rate is due to the population of affordable senior housing, and the low turnout rate due to age-related physical and other impediments. I wonder if there is a better way to give access to these voters, and if we’re doing enough to ensure they can make it to the polls. It would be one thing if they weren’t interested, but another thing if physical ability to walk to the polling place was preventing this population from voting. It would be a shame if that were the case. Maybe we could have some city golf carts offering rides?

Sometimes The Leap Jumps You

The last note I will make is about those who try to make the leap from School Committee to Council. Conway obviously made it, and it didn’t hurt (indeed, probably made the difference) to be on the high school downtown slate. If you recall, Leahy and Leary are both SC alum, who made it onto the Council on the strength of their exposure from governing our schools. However, whether it’s being on the wrong side of the high school debate, or something else, Gignac certainly fell far short of the top nine. Being elected elsewhere does not always translate into a win.

Well, I’m sure others will have lots to say. Thanks to Wayne for putting this out there!