New Bedford voters cast ballots in preliminary election


New Bedford voters are heading to the polls, ready to narrow down the field of candidates for mayor.

Voters will also decide the fields for school committee and city council seats in two wards.

“I think it’s important. I think the local level is probably the level in politics where you can have the most impact,” said voter Ian Mello.

Turnout is expected to be around 30 percent, a strong showing for New Bedford when there’s no national or statewide race.

“The economy the way it is, all these people here, supposedly, who are running have some pretty good ideas. So I guess people are more interested. That’s why they’re coming out,” said voter Leon Hale.

Voters trickled into the senior center at Buttonwoods Park throughout Tuesday afternoon with bigger crowds expected later in the day.

There are five candidates in the race for mayor.

The candidates are Democratic state Rep. Antonio Cabral, political newcomer E. Michael Janson, former federal prosecutor Jon Mitchell, city councilor Linda Morad and political newcomer Thomas Pina.

The top two vote getters will face off in November’s election. Incumbent Scott Lang did not seek another term.

Jack Spillane, political reporter for The Standard-Times, said there’s no clear-cut leader.

“I keep asking people around the city, ‘Who do you think is the favorite?’ People tell me all different names. Nobody seems to agree. Everybody seems to agree that it’s tight,” Spillane said.

Voters want a new mayor who can deal with unemployment and the city’s troubled school system.

“Education and jobs, those are the two,” said voter Helene Fine.

“People are really anxious that the New Bedford schools, which have had a high dropout rate and poor MCAS scores improve in those areas,” Spillane said.

Ruth and Raymond Braley came to their polling place together on Tuesday with the economy on their minds.

“We’re retired, and we’re just about surviving. And I mean just about,” Raymond Braley said.

“There’s a lot of people out of work. They’re not working, you know?” Ruth Brayley said.

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