BOSTON – Residents in the 37th Middlesex District will have to wait a little longer to choose their new state representative.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives adopted a pair of orders on Monday to move the scheduled special election to determine the new state representative for the district from March 31 to June 2.
It was the same day as the Senate also passing legislation rescheduling state elections to May 19. The House and Senate made the orders in response to the coronavirus and concern about mass gatherings at the polls.
“Massachusetts took action to not only preserve our elections system, but to protect public health during this historic public health emergency,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a press release. “We appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka on this and other COVID-19-related public health issues.”
The legislation, which Gov. Charlie Baker signed Monday evening, allows local governments to postpone certain elections set before May 30 this year and reschedule them to a date prior to June 30 and any eligible voter can mail in a vote early for elections before June 30.
“Even as we confront this unprecedented public health crisis, we continue to hold up the fundamental ideal that the right to vote should be cherished and protected,” Senate President Karen Spilka said in a press release. “This emergency law gives cities and towns the flexibility they need to postpone municipal elections while maintaining options that maximize voter protections and participation. I’d like to thank everyone in the House and Senate who worked quickly and thoughtfully to move this legislation forward.”
The district race was set to be contested between Democrat Danillo Sena of Acton and Republican Cathy Clark of Lunenburg.
Sena and Clark won their respective primaries on March 3, with Sena defeating opponent Dina Samfield and Clark beating opponent Malena Chastain.
Sena, who served as the Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s district director for six years, said on Monday that he has “paused” his campaign as the reports of the virus came in over the last couple of weeks. That said, he still plans to continue his campaign when the June 2 date closes in.
“I wish the election was the same day as the Senate’s date, but if the House decided what was best then we’ll take it from there,” Sena said. “I’m glad they postponed it for now and picked a date, whereas before we were unsure.
Clark also confirmed on Monday that she’d still run in the election and said she stopped having campaign volunteers knock on doors to keep them from potentially catching the virus.
“It’s all about the health and safety of the volunteers,” she said. “Fortunately there’s technology in this day and age to still reach out to people.”