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Thursday, September 25, 2003

Local: State Aid and Mayoral Elections

The Globe story on Somerville Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay's primary defeat shows a troubling tendency on the part of voters to blame their mayors when the state reduces funding for local activities:

"Somerville lost $5 million in state aid over the last year, a 25 percent reduction that led to 200 layoffs in City Hall and in the fire and police departments. Voters were unforgiving... Other incumbents fared poorly in preliminary elections held in the midst of the state's budget crisis. Sitting mayors in Fitchburg, Beverly, and Waltham were also recently unseated."

This seems rather unfair. I know people in Somerville have separate grievances with Kelly Gay, as the article points out, but the pattern across the state seems to be that the decisions by the Romney administration to cut local aid have made political survival difficult or impossible for many mayors. Why don't the people blame the state, or why don't they believe local officials who try to blame Beacon Hill for their troubles? And does this pattern suggest that Romney can successfully target cities with leaders he doesn't like for the steepest local aid cuts?