D. Nathaniel Mulcahy

D. Nathaniel Mulcahy is challenging incumbent Ann-Margaret Ferrante for the state House 5th Essex District seat as a Democrat in the state primary.

A Democratic primary race for state representative in the 5th Essex District is shaping up, though candidates still have a couple of weeks to deliver their nomination papers with the minimum 150 certified signatures to the Secretary of State to get on the ballot.

Seven-term state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester is facing a challenge from the chair of the Rockport Democratic Town Committee, D. Nathaniel Mulcahy, who says he has filed 538 signatures with the Secretary of State, more than enough to get his name on the ballot.

And a potential general election race is forming as Gloucester resident Ashley Davis-Sullivan has pulled nomination papers to get on the ballot as the lone Republican who would square off against the winner of the Democratic primary on Sept. 6. In an email, Davis-Sullivan declined comment as she was in the process of getting her signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

Candidates had until May 3 to submit nomination papers to local election officials for certification of signatures. They have until May 31 to hand them into the Secretary of State.

Ferrante says she has double the amount of signatures required in her bid to represent the new 5th Essex District and intends to file them this week. Redistricting has added Manchester to Gloucester, Rockport and Essex in the 5th Essex

On Friday, in a signal the Democratic primary race was getting underway, Mulcahy, 57, a progressive activist, tweeted he was on the ballot. A check with the Secretary of Commonwealth’s Election Division spokesperson Deb O’Malley said he had submitted enough certified signatures to do so.

“The main reason I’m running, I’m running for transparency,” said Mulcahy. “It’s wrong that we are the only state where our representatives do not have to tell their constituents how they vote on anything and the only state where the legislative body has legally exempted itself from public records requests.”

“We are now the least transparent in the country,” said Mulcahy of the Statehouse. Mulcahy has worked with experts and written bills to keep children safe from lead poisoning.

In a 2020, Mulcahy suspended his campaign for Congress before the signature deadline in part due to the difficulty of canvassing during COVID-19. This time around, he said he gathered all of his signatures on his own, speaking to about 3,000 people in all four towns to hear the needs of the district.

“It was incredibly informative,” he said.

Mulcahy, a delegate to the Democratic State Convention, is an engineering consultant and designer who has worked for major corporations for the past two decades, according to his resume. He is known for his work on climate issues; environmental policy and shellfish research. He was formerly on the Shellfish Advisory Commission in Gloucester.

According to his resume, he holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Master of Science in neurological structures and mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Genoa, Italy.

But Mulcahy may be behind Ferrante when it comes to fundraising. The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website does not show any fundraising reports for Mulcahy’s campaign. Ferrante’s campaign had $72,264 cash on hand at the end of April, after raising $14,882 that month, and spending $3,781.

“I welcome him to the race,” said Ferrante, 49, a Gloucester attorney first elected in 2008, defeating former Democratic state Rep. Tony Verga, who happens to be the father of Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga. She’s a graduate of Tufts University, Suffolk University Law School, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she earned a master’s in public administration.

Ferrante serves as vice chair of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means and serves on the House Committee on Operations, Facilities and Security, the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling. She’s also the House chair of the Tech Hub Caucus.

“I’m the type of person who likes elections,” said Ferrante, who ran unopposed in 2020. She has had challengers in the past. She recalled the 2020 pandemic election season in which campaigning was kept to a minimum and people were staying home.

“It was great to be out there” Ferrante said about campaigning, and being able to engage with people a little bit more.

She spoke about the work she is doing now and “the continuity of work.”

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrante said she served as the House chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development, and was part of the governor’s task force to reopen the economy, giving her insight into the reopening of businesses not only on Cape Ann but throughout the commonwealth.

She said her “experience is definitely a plus” and spoke about the arc of her work, which includes securing state investments in the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute on the harbor and its Gloucester Biotechnology Academy on Blackburn Center.

Ferrante said climate change and vulnerability are priorities for Cape Ann communities, but she says it’s not only about what the commonwealth has to invest, but the historic investment that has come from the federal government to Massachusetts from federal infrastructure, American Rescue Plan Act and COVID-19 relief. She says she has a front-row seat in coming up with the best way to shepherd the federal dollars so it’s spent wisely and Cape Ann gets its fair share.

Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or eforman@northofboston.com.

Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or eforman@northofboston.com.

Trending Video

Recommended for you