Will the State Senate race heat up in the North End

By Emily Stypolkowski

Special to the Regional Review

Although the election season has been relatively quiet in the North End thus far, some residents say that as November approaches, the state senate race has the potential to raise the volume.

Due to the lack of competition on both sides of the political spectrum, the primaries for state senate attracted little attention in the neighborhood and, in turn, led to dismal turnouts at the polls. However, now that State Senator Anthony Petruccelli has his challenger, Republican Frank Addivinola, Jr., the race has officially begun.

Petruccelli is extremely well-known and has done well in the North End in elections past.

Addivinola is the new guy on the block, attempting to cash in on all the anger voters are showing because of the economy.

While the North End has leaned left in past elections, a local property owner says the race in the North End may be closer than anticipated.

“People may go around saying that they’ll vote for one guy, but once they get in the booth, they can vote however they want,” said Carmen Vigorito, a Newton resident who owns real estate in the North End.

The recent political shift to the right with the election of Scott Brown earlier this year has Democrats in the North End and throughout the state no longer feeling quite so secure. And though the neighborhood voted in favor of Martha Coakley in the January election, 15-year resident Matt Conti says that in that race “you saw a lot more people voting Republican than ever before in the North End.”

Such fact has been on the mind of Petruccelli. According to Conti, who interviewed Petruccelli for his blog NorthEndWaterfront.com, the senator is sensitive to the political change in the state.

“I’m working hard, meeting the people, speaking with them, listening and understanding what they want. These are hard times but with a lot of hard work, we will beat the economic downturn,” said Petruccelli.

During his tenure in the senate, Petruccelli has shown strong leadership skills and it is well known he has become the senate president’s link with the governor’s office.

“When the economy is bad, people tend to take it out on the incumbents,” Conti says. “And because in Massachusetts it’s mostly democrats, it opens the door for the other side.”

Frustration over the economy is prevalent in the North End, Vigorito says. “When they go months without jobs and nothing is being done, of course people are going to be frustrated.”

One proposal to aid economic troubles not only in the North End but also throughout Massachusetts is the casino bill. Though it failed to pass this year, the bill, which will be considered again for legislation in the coming year, would bring three casinos and two slot machine parlors into the state. Proponents of the bill claim that these casinos would bring revenue to the state as well as create a multitude of job opportunities.

Petruccelli is in favor of the bill saying that the bill will benefit the North End’s non-profit groups and improve major infrastructure around the neighborhood.

Local issues, such as the casino bill, will not make or break the election. “It’s not really about republican versus democrat,” Conti says, “It’s more about who people like and who has done the most for the community.”

If the political signage around the neighborhood is any indication of a candidate’s popularity, Petruccelli would appear to be ahead. Signs for Petruccelli have popped up in multiple shop windows since the last month’s primary. Signs for Addivinola, however, are nearly nonexistent.

Signs don’t vote but they certainly tell a story about organization or the lack of it.

But whether Petruccelli is successful in his bid for reelection in the North End or Addivinola pulls an upset here, it is still too early to tell. Voters will have to wait until November to find out if the North End stays blue.