My predictions for the contested at-large races. I’m not here to influence your vote. My bisexual friend told me, “You like what you like!”
Stick to your picks, if you got ’em:
1) Rita Mercier
Her base is shrinking steadily. But, she has support in every nook and cranny of Lowell. She takes your call and carries it to City Hall. No matter how hard the DEI clique try to brand Rita a racist (so their cherry picked candidate have a foil), Rita connects with a wide swath of demographics. Well, except for academic snobs.
2) Erik Gitschier
When I talk to those out there actively campaigning, I’m told Erik’s name is on the lips of a LOT of high propensity voters. If that’s true, Erik will do well. I also am hearing Erik is knocking doors, not just dropping lit. Erik speaks in the language that ‘old Lowell’ gobbles up. He ruffles the feathers of his fellow Councilors, by going hard at the City Administration. Some speculate that Erik could finish 1st. I’m not out canvassing, so I’ll have to take the word of those who are. That said, Erik’s penchant for going overboard has got to cut into his vote total. That’s my bias. I think Erik does the right thing in the wrong manner. It will lift him, but not to the top.
3) Vesna Nuon
I vibe, personally, with Vesna the most. He has done the best in vote totals, in the past. However, he lost not THAT LONG ago. So, I think his support is finicky. How could his flip on ADU’s bolster his support? The Belvidere could choose to slap Vesna on the nose with a newspaper. Though, if it’s The Sun, it will be wafer thin and not sting too much. Vesna has a progressive firewall. Along with his top finishes, in the recent past, that gives him room to fall, safely. There are no better progressive choices in the at-large race.
4) Corey Belanger
The ADU issue gave Corey a lifeline to 3rd place. He did everything possible to capitalize on the rift. It was a shot in the arm for him. Unfortunately, Gitschier’s increased traction is a sign that Lowell wants a Councilor that will check the City Administration vocally in the Chamber, for all to see. Corey would do that to a manager from outside Lowell. But, not to anyone he’s eaten the home fries off their plate at the Owl. Also, I’ve gotten some feedback that Corey has fallen flat in forums. In a City that talks plenty about moving forward, Corey is a blast from the past. It gets him close enough to save face.
5-6) Virak Uy/Bobby Tugbiyele
Bobby is certainly intentional. He seems to be running with a strategic campaign plan. There are pros assisting him and Bobby has experience from running better in 2021. But, Lowell isn’t interested. Some are, but I’d bet less than 2021. Those still on the bandwagon are committed to the brand. I’ve been told by a few close to that circle, the brand is hollow. Voters can spot that a mile away. Especially, when you send a cold text nudging voters. Robo calls, or robo texts is not grassroots flavored. Voters expect to see you, at their door, hat in hand.
Virak? I mean, who the hell is this guy? A carpetbagger, or a “grow in?” He’s no stranger to the Cambodian community, but few beyond Phil Sisson know who he is outside the Khmer. That said, he HAS used his blip on the political radar to showcase his talents. Those that have seen him out on the stump say he is no slouch. 2023 won’t be his year. But, some year will be his. I’d bet Virak knew that before he pulled papers.
Between Virak and Bobby, I won’t commit to who finishes better. Bobby has earned votes before. There’s muscle memory, among voters, for Bobby’s oval. Virak will be the under dog. That can attract votes. But, voters are shifting towards diversity. In January 2024, there will be 3 Cambodians on the Council. Why would Lowellians pick Virak to be one of them? He didn’t make his case to replace, but he did build a case for himself. It just won’t be enough.