Bye, Bye Bernie
By Josh Resnek
Monday night’s meeting of the Election Commission was nothing short of a sensation in a city where the political status quo has existed like the Great Wall of China for longer than a half century.
The steel fisted Everett political status quo, which over and over again passes power to the same people from election to election almost without exception, was shattered by David Linsey, an African American Everett resident, the descendant of slaves from Mississippi.
Linsey, a candidate for an at-large seat on the School Committee, had been treated like rubbish by city lawyers several weeks ago when he filed a challenge to an incumbent’s signatures claiming they were fakes and fraudulent.
Late Monday afternoon in a packed Keverian Meeting room on the third floor at city hall, Linsey put on an incredible presentation contesting a longtime school committeeman’s certified signatures before a stunned into quiet Election Commission.
When all was said and done, School Committeeman Bernie D’Onofrio, one of the mayor’s loyalists on the committee, had been removed from the ballot because many of his signatures were shown to be fraudulent.
In a rare show of near total agreement, the Election Commissioners agreed with Linsey’s objections and removed 9 signatures, more than enough to sink D’Onofrio’s bid for re-election.
What this also accomplished, very likely, is Linsey’s election to D’Onofrio’s seat as well as ending the need for a primary in the at-large position.
More importantly, it has launched the political career of an African American Everett man who was all but thrown out of city hall only two weeks ago by city officials who didn’t even know the right final date for signatures on nomination papers to be challenged.
For Linsey, it was payback.
D’Onofrio never showed up – a sure sign he knew enough to stay away from the embarrassment that would have been publicly heaped upon him.
Linsey’s wife, Councilor at Large candidate Gerly Adrien, told the Leader Herald she was quietly pleased by the outcome of the hearing.
Indeed. Her political future was cemented Monday night when the status quo came apart before the Election Commission.
Also likely cemented is the political future of Stephanie Martins, who watched the proceedings with interest – as did councilors John Hanlon and Fred Capone, and a bevy of city hall types who were all rather amazed at the meeting’s outcome.
Jimmy Le, the first Vietnamese man to serve on the city council will be replacing Leo McKinnon who has chosen not to run.
The political landscape is changing before our eyes and with some speed.
This rather Draconian public humiliation and removal from the ballot of a longtime local politician and mayoral loyalist by a political newcomer, an African American Everett man no less, sends a strong message to all incumbents that something is up this year.
The clear message is that the status quo has been shattered.
Everett politics and leadership is now coming to appear more like the extraordinary multi-cultural population that lives in this city.