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First Time Candidate Gets Veteran Politician's Support


A first time candidate in Springfield’s municipal election has won a rare endorsement from a veteran Massachusetts politician. 

State Rep. Benjamin Swan, dean of the city’s legislative delegation, Wednesday announced his support for Jesse Lederman’s bid to win an at-large seat on the Springfield City Council in the November 3rd election.

" He's a young man. He's energetic, " Swan said of Lederman. " He'll be a very positive addition to the council."

Lederman, 20, had not been born when Swan was first elected to the state legislature in 1994. Swan, who is a veteran of the civil rights movement, said he first noticed Lederman as an activist in their neighborhood.

" I've watched him grow up and become involved in city activities. He's been involved in a number of political campaigns. Some of the people I supported, some I might not have," said Swan.

Lederman said he was honored and humbled to have Swan’s support.

" Rep. Swan's service to the people of Springfield is unparalleled and I hope to bring the same caliber of representation to our constituents as a member of the city council," said Lederman. "  The leadership of my generation stands on the shoulders and counsel of tested and seasoned leaders such as the representative."

Swan’s endorsement is quite a coup for Lederman. Swan has rarely endorsed candidates for municipal office. Lederman is one of 10 candidates running for five at-large council seats. All five incumbent councilors-at-large are seeking new two-year terms.

"Endorsements help a great deal," said Lederman.

Lederman has been an activist in his native McKnight neighborhood since he was a teenager. He participated in several community campaigns including opposition to a proposed biomass power plant in east Springfield and support for reopening the inner city Mason Square Library.

He’s called for creating a civilian commission to oversee the Springfield Police Dept.  Swan also supports that.  Lederman said he plans to soon release a legislative agenda that will focus on public safety, constituent services and public engagement.

Springfield will hold a preliminary election on Sept. 8th for mayor. Incumbent Domenic Sarno, seeking a fourth term, is on the ballot with five challengers. A seventh candidate for mayor, who failed to submit enough nomination signatures by the July 28th deadline, has announced a write-in campaign.  The two top vote getters in the preliminary advance to the November election.

Today ( Aug.19) is the deadline to register to vote in the preliminary.

When the Springfield City Council voted just last week to move the date of the preliminary up one week to Sept. 8th to avoid conflicts with Jewish holy days, the registration deadline was also pushed up.  The city's election commissioner, Gladys Oyola, said her office has been spreading the word about the date changes.

"We've been publicizing it on Facebook  and through the League of Women Voters and also voter registration drives in various neighborhoods," said Oyola.

The election commission office in City Hall will be open until 8 tonight for people to come in to register. People can also register on line or mail a voter registration form postmarked by today's date.

Oyola said there has been no surge in voter registrations, which she said is more typical in a state or federal election year.  Springfield has just under 100,000 registered voters.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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