Nomination papers for this year’s state election continue to circulate with a looming April 28 deadline to file signatures with local election officials now less than a month away.
The primary election to pick party nominees is Sept. 1, with the general election scheduled for Nov. 3, the same day as the presidential election.
In the 12th Suffolk district, a vacancy left by state Rep. Dan Cullinane, who is not seeking re-election, each potential candidate has to collect and file at least 150 signatures from voters who live in the district to make the ballot.
On Tuesday, Debra O’Malley, a spokesperson for Secretary of State William Galvin said it would require an act of the Legislature to change the election requirements, including the signature deadline.
“The Speaker and the Senate President have both indicated publicly that they are looking at the issue and whether any changes are needed,” said O’Malley. “We have advised them about related deadlines, such as deadlines to challenge a candidate’s nomination papers, deadlines to fill vacancies caused by those challenges, and ballot printing deadlines.”
One candidate for the 12th Suffolk is Cameron Charbonnier, a Dorchester resident and a longtime aide to Mayor Walsh, who currently works as director of Strategic Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment. Charbonnier said that social distancing has made it more difficult to gather signatures.
“Gathering signatures while strictly adhering to social distancing is a unique challenge for sure,” he told the Reporter. “I think most people are rightly focused on how to stay safe, healthy, and helpful to each other at this time and not focused on politics, myself included.”
“That being said, this time has made for many valuable one-on-one connections on the phone and I’ve been incredibly humbled by the good response I have received from across the district. Personally, I will continue to use whatever time is provided to continue these conversations and safely pursue enough signatures to be on the ballot, by meeting either the current deadline or an extended one.”
Brandy Fluker-Oakley, a Mattapan attorney, told the Reporter in early March that she plans to run for the 12th Suffolk seat.
"While I’m extremely confident that I will obtain the necessary signatures to appear on the ballot by the April 28th deadline, this is certainly a new landscape requiring a new way of campaigning,” Fluker-Oakley said.
She added: “If we want to encourage more first-time candidates to run including women and people of color, the system will also have to be flexible and adjust to this new reality given the limitations of in-person and door to door contact and other restrictions being placed on candidates.”
State Rep. Dan Hunt, who is running for re-election in the 13th Suffolk district, said he does not expect the nomination deadlines to be extended for House seats. Most candidates likely gathered what they requisite 150 signatures prior to the social distancing guidelines kicked in. Nomination papers have been available for candidates since Feb. 11.
“[Nomination papers] are out for 12 weeks and most larger congressional and county seats require a much higher number of signatures,” said Hunt. “I don't necessarily see extending the due date for House of Representative seats at this point, but maybe for larger seats,” he added. “But, as always, the situation we’re in is fluid and things can change.”
In the last two election cycles, Mattapan-based attorney Jovan Lacet mounted unsuccessful campaigns against Cullinane for the 12th Suffolk seat. He indicated last year that he intended to launch a third challenge against the incumbent, but
has not responded to Reporter requests to discuss his campaign.
Stephanie Everett, a Mattapan attorney who sought the 12th Suffolk seat in 2013, also told the Reporter in early March that she, too, is considering another bid for the office.
More information about the nomination process and election schedule during this emergency can be found at sec.state.ma.us/ele/covid-19.htm.