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Primaries settle party nominations for state legislative seats

Posted by Your Town  March 6, 2013 11:14 AM

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Longtime Everett pol Wayne Matewsky defeated four rivals vying Tuesday for the Democratic Party’s nomination in a special election for state representative, according to unofficial numbers from the Everett City Clerk’s office.

A city councilor, Matewsky will face fellow city councilor Rosa DiFlorio and Dennis John Gianatassio, who are both not enrolled in a political party, in the April 2 general election.

The special election is being held to find a successor to former Rep. Stephen “Stat” Smith, a Democrat, who resigned as part of a voter fraud plea deal with U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Matewsky is a former aide to Smith and had previously lost against Smith for the same state representative seat.

In a separate, Republican primary in Peabody, Leah Cole, a nurse, won with 512 votes, defeating Greg Bunn, the operations manager of the North Shore Career Center, who received 460 votes. Democrat Beverley Anne Griffin Dunne ran unopposed and received 606 votes, according to the city clerk’s office.

Cole will face Dunne in the April 2 general election.City Councilor David Gravel will be on the ballot as an independent.

The seat in the Twelfth Essex House district comprises most of Peabody and has been vacant since Rep. Joyce Spiliotis (D-Peabody) died in late November after a battle with cancer. Spiliotis was in her fifth term.

Though Smith pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of voter fraud involving absentee ballots earlier this year, Matewsky demurred when asked if he thought he could have won in 2008 under different circumstances.

“That’s all hopeful, wishful thinking,” Matewsky said.

Smith beat Matewsky that year by 523 votes in the Democratic primary.

In a recent interview with the News Service, Matewsky described his 2008 race against Smith as “a drag-out affair” and said, “He got mad that I ran against him.” Matewsky said, “We had parted ways for a period of time up until I was hired as his aide.”

Matewsky said his role as an aide to Smith was to “reach out” to senior citizens and help them. On Tuesday, Matewsky earned 921 votes, topping the five-person Democratic field, according to the unofficial tally.

The next closest vote-getter was Alderman Joseph McGonagle, who received 870 votes. John Hanlon, a former mayor who had also lost in a race for the state representative seat against Smith, received 830 votes.

Alderman Michael Mangan received 767 votes, and City Councilor Sergio Cornelio received 496 votes.

“I've been a councilman and an alderman here for over 30 years,” Matewsky previously told the News Service. While the federal investigation into Smith was common knowledge among people involved in Everett politics, Matewsky previously told the News Service he was unaware of the investigation.

“I didn’t know anything. I thought, you know, everything was fine,” Matewsky said. Matewsky also dismissed suggestions by his political opponents that he was involved in Smith’s recent campaigns. He said, “Because I took a job as a legislative aide doesn’t mean I helped him in any campaigns in the recent past.”

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