Races for several open seats are claiming the spotlight as state legislative contests north of Boston speed toward the finish line.
When they cast ballots for president, US Senate, and several US House seats, area voters at Tuesday’s election will also be helping choose 53 state senators and representatives, with contested races in 21 of those districts.
Among the well-watched races are tussles in some of the seven districts in which incumbents are not on the ballot due to retirement, resignation, or losing in the primary.
The contests included battles for the First Essex state Senate seat that Methuen Democrat Steven Baddour resigned last April, and for the Second Essex House seat of retiring West Newbury Democrat Harriett L. Stanley. Both are of particular interest because Republicans view the Merrimack Valley seats as possible pickups.
Contending for the Senate seat are Newburyport Democrat and City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives; Haverhill Republican and School Committee member Shaun P. Toohey; and unenrolled candidates James Kelcourse, an Amesbury city councilor; and Paul A. Magliocchetti, a Haverhill School Committee member.
“I’ve been going door to door . . . for many months,” Ives said, “making the case for why I believe I have the background, experience, and temperament to be an effective state senator. Despite the tough odds, I made it through the state Senate primary. . . . Now I’m more motivated and energized than ever to get to work on solutions.”
Toohey said he feels “extremely optimistic” about his chances.
“The message has been resonating that we need a true two-party system,” he said. “That has hit home with Democrats, independents, and Republicans.”
Noting that the Senate currently has 36 Democrats and four Republicans, he said: “I would add much-needed balance to the Legislature.”
Kelcourse said he has been getting “very positive feedback from the constituents I meet.”
“Everyone has been extremely favorable to me,’’ he said, “and they are excited about having an independent in the race because the bulk of folks I meet are independent. . . . People are tired of what has taken place with the parties. They really want a moderate candidate.”
Magliocchetti said he feels “very good about how things are going.”
“I’ve been campaigning every day since I announced in April,” he said, “and I’ve had nothing but positive responses to my positions and the fact that I’m running as an independent. I feel confident about my chances.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience meeting so many people and being able to talk about what matters to them and to me,” said Fogel, a lawyer. “I feel I’ve been able to get my message across, which is that my experience as an attorney is in helping businesses to grow and add jobs.”
Mirra said his campaign is going very well, and noted that his business background has been a positive with voters he has met.
“I have had 25 years in the private sector, all in small businesses,” he said. “I have a track record of creating jobs. A lot of people I’ve spoken to say we need more of that on Beacon Hill.”
Also hotly contested is the race for the 21st Middlesex House seat of retiring Burlington Democrat Charles A. Murphy. Bedford Democrat Ken Gordon and Burlington Republican and Selectman Walter Zenkin are competing.
The 14th Essex House seat is open, but only because incumbent David M. Torrisi of North Andover lost in the Democratic primary to Diana DiZoglio of Methuen. DiZoglio, a first-time candidate, is vying in the final against North Andover Republican Karin K. Rhoton, a former School Committee member.
Notable races where incumbents face competition include two where the challenger is a current or former legislator.
In the Second Essex and Middlesex Senate district, Democratic incumbent Barry R. Finegold of Andover faces state Representative Paul Adams, an Andover Republican who opted to run for the Senate after being redistricted out of his current 17th Essex House seat.
Also competitive is the race in the 13th Essex House district, where veteran Democratic incumbent Theodore C. Speliotis and Dan Bennett, a Danvers Republican and selectman, are competing in a rematch of their 2010 race that was narrowly won by Speliotis.
Other races on tap Tuesday include several contests for open seats.
Salem Democrat and City Council president Joan B. Lovely and Beverly Republican Richard A. Jolitz are competing in the Second Essex Senate district for the seat of retiring Salem Democrat Frederick E. Berry of Peabody. Lovely, who won a four-way primary, is strongly favored.
In the Third Middlesex Senate district, former state senator Michael J. Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, and Sandi Martinez, a Chelmsford Republican, are squaring off for the seat of retiring Lincoln Democrat Susan C. Fargo.
Lawrence City Council president Frank A. Moran, a Democrat, and unenrolled candidate Kevin M. Cuff of Andover are contending for Adams’s 17th Essex House seat.
In some of the other races featuring challenges to incumbents, state Representative Colleen M. Garry, a Dracut Democrat, is opposed by Cathy Richardson, a Republican and chairwoman of the Dracut Board of Selectmen, in the 36th Middlesex district.
State Representative Marcos A. Devers, a Lawrence Democrat, is squaring off against former state representative Jose L. Santiago of Lawrence, who is unenrolled.