This Tuesday in a special election, voters will choose who will represent the 4th Essex District at the Statehouse.
Democrat Jamie Belsito, of Topsfield, and Republican Robert “Bob” Snow, of Rowley, are on the Nov. 30 ballot, competing to fill the remainder of state Rep. Brad Hill’s term, which expires at the end of 2022. Hill left his seat to join the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in August.
Both Snow and Belsito have been campaigning after winning a four-way primary race earlier this month. The winner Tuesday will represent Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Rowley, Topsfield and Wenham on Beacon Hill.
On Thursday, Snow’s voice was hoarse from speaking to “over 1,000 people, probably more” on the campaign trail.
“It’s really remarkable,” he said of the experience. “Very few people want nothing to do with you, but a lot of people want to talk and tell you how they feel about the government.”
Belsito said her campaigning has been a mixture of online and offline meet-ups.
“I’ve been connecting to different community groups across the district through Zoom, which continues to be helpful,” she said. “We’ve also been doing in-person events. I was very excited to be able to work the Thanksgiving dinner at the Ipswich Council on Aging. People are feeling energized about this unique opportunity to elect a new representative.”
Hill, 54, had served the 4th Essex in the state House of Representatives for 23 years.
Belsito previously told The Salem News that she was focused on issues involving the Ipswich River, public education, government assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors and mental health. Likewise, Snow said his main issues were the district’s clean water supply and efforts to mitigate climate change and waste.
Gov. Charlie Baker, also a Republican, formally endorsed Snow earlier this month.
“His commitment to fiscal responsibility, and dedication to his community make Bob the best candidate for the 4th Essex district,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
Snow said he was honored to receive the endorsement.
“He’s a great guy,” he said of Baker. “He’s done a great job handling the pandemic. If anything, this has been right up there with the Great Depression, World War II, (and) the influenza pandemic of 1918. No one was truly prepared for what had happened.”
Belsito received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Attorney General Maura Healey, state Sen. Joan Lovely of the 2nd Essex district and state Rep. Sally Kerans of the 13th Essex, all Democrats.
On Nov. 4, Baker signed off on redistricting plans for both the state’s Senate and House districts, which among other things, carves up the 4th Essex district that exists today and would likely pit the winner of Tuesday’s contest against an incumbent lawmaker if they run again in 2022.
Topsfield will be split between the 13th and 2nd Essex districts; Wenham divided between the 13th and 6th Essex districts; Ipswich, Hamilton and Rowley move to the 2nd Essex; and Manchester shifts to the 5th Essex with the rest of Cape Ann.
Snow said he won’t run to represent 2nd Essex if that means going against incumbent Rep. Lenny Mirra, R-Georgetown.
“Loyalty comes first,” he explained. “I could never run against him. He’s a good representative and he does a good job. You don’t do that to your friends. I’m a Marine and loyalty means everything to me.”
Belsito said she isn’t preoccupied with plans for possible reelection.
“I’m focused on running for this seat for the people,” she said. “It’s all about the 4th Essex right now. Once we get done, we’ll see where we’re at.”
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.