By James Niedzinski
---- — GLOUCESTER — A majority of voters across Cape Ann stayed away from the polls yesterday, largely sitting out the special primary elections to determine which Democratic and Republican candidates will face off for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry.
The turnout was low, as expected, throughout the area and across the state, though a number of Gloucester’s 20,849 registered voters trickled in throughout the day to cast their ballots at one of two precincts at the Our Lady of Good Voyage Church youth center. The building now serves Gloucester’s Ward 2, Precincts 1 and 2, with Precinct 1 voters having shifted over from McPherson Park.
”Not many so far,” Hank Camille, Ward 2 Precinct 2 warden, said Tuesday afternoon, still hoping for a bit of a rush around 5 p.m. and when the polls close, around 8 p.m.
Polls inspector Sheila Brown noted that fewer elderly residents than usual seemed to be using the Cape Ann Transportation Authority for the special election primary, though she added that could mean more residents could be utilizing absentee ballots this year.
”We’re not expecting more than 150 (people) or so,” she said, estimating that Precinct 2 includes 1,700 voters.
Manchester saw a slow, but steady turnout of voters according Town Clerk Denise Samolchuck.
”There was one voter at 7 a.m., and they have trickled in since then,” she said.
Veterans’ Memorial Elementary School in Gloucester did not see a large turnout either, though poll workers saw more voters walk through the gymnasium doors than initially anticipated, according to poll inspector Susan Baker.
“It’s been slow, steady — and boring,” Baker joked, noting poll workers were utilizing everything from newspapers to Sudoku to pass the time.
With the various after-school programs at the elementary school, Baker and other poll workers gave some of the school’s elementary students an impromptu lesson on the basic principles of how elections work.
“They asked ‘can we vote?’” Baker said. “They were sweet.”
Among the real voters, several backed Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, who faced fellow Congressman Stephen Lynch on the Democratic side while Norfolk state Rep. Dan Winslow, Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez and former U.S. Attorney Mike Sullivan all sought the Republican nod.
Some Markey supporters cited his stance on the fishing industry as among the reasons for voting for the longtime congressmen — even though Markey, who has backed economic disaster aid for the embattled industry, has opposed the changes to the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act that industry leaders and other members of the state’s congressional delegation have been seeking.
”He really seems to support the fishing industry,” said 66-year-old Bill Nardone of Rocky Pasture Road.
Dolores Mark of Old Nugent Farm Road also said Markey was supportive of the fishing industry, though he cited other reasons to get behind Markey as well.
”He stands for gun control, pro-choice, and he’s got experience,” she said.
”I am a dedicated voter, a liberal Democrat,” added Mary Weissblum, 78, of Ledge Road.
”He’s pro-energy conservation,” she added. “I think Markey’s the man.”
Jacquelyn Brooks, 78, of Pirates Lane, said she likes Markey’s character and described Markey as a “dedicated and enlightened politician.”
”He has been unflagging in his dedication to the LGBT community,” she said.
Vita Santuccio, 77, of Prospect Street said one issue stood out to her.
”It’s the fishermen,” she said, although she did not disclose for whom she voted for in the primary. During a debate last week, Lynch, who has backed Magnuson and fisheries reform, told Markey, saying “I am with the fishermen, you are with the fish.”
She said her husband, now deceased, was a fisherman.
”If he knew what was going on here, he’d kill someone,” she quipped, referring to the industry’s current struggles.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.