Belvidere May Get Unwanted Neighbor

June 3, 2018 GMT

A Sun Staff report

MOST INTERESTING rumor out of Lowell last week? A $715,000, 7-bedroom home in the city’s ritziest neighborhood could become a sober home.

There was “some interest” from the prospective buyer, says Nancy Judge of Keller Williams Realty, but the offer never came to fruition.

Judge would not disclose the man’s identity. The name of the individual will be kept confidential, Judge said.

The property at 7 Fairmount St., a large Victorian at the corner of Mansur Street, is still on the market.

Anthony Duarte bought the 5,500-square-foot house in 2003 for $575,000, and now the listing price exceeds $700,000.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful property,” Judge said. “They’ve done a magnificent job refurbishing the whole property.”

Neighbors were befuddled when they heard a sober home could be down the street.

“Say again? A sober home?” said one neighbor, who declined to be named. “I guarantee that would never happen. The neighbors here would never, ever allow that to happen.”

“I can’t believe...” another neighbor said before trailing off. “They can’t do this. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”

It’s unclear what will happen at that property moving forward, but those who didn’t want a new high school nearby might be looking at a sober home in the future.

AS USUAL, a steady torrent of endorsements from labor unions and local politicians continues to flow through the 3rd Congressional District. Two in the past week stood out:

* Lori Trahan picked up the public support of former Methuen Mayor Sharon Pollard. Herself a trailblazer -- when she was elected, Pollard was the first woman to serve as Methuen’s mayor -- Pollard said in a statement that she hoped Lori would continue to empower women to lead.

The current Methuen mayor, James Jajuga, former state senator state public safety secretary, is backing Dan Koh.

* The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, announced its endorsement for Barbara L’Italien. The NEA has more than 3 million members across the country, 110,000 of which are part of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, according to L’Italien’s campaign.

Union endorsements are ubiquitous in this race, but almost all so far have come from local chapters with a few hundred or a thousand members, rather than entire national organizations.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García cited L’Italien’s work in the Legislature to ensure equal access to quality education for all students.

IN AN odd coincidence, randomly drawn panels for The Sun’s 3rd District debate Tuesday morning at the Devens Common Center are similar to the randomly drawn panels for the previous debate.

Given that 11 Democrats are running in the primary race, organizers decided to split the field into two sessions, similar to the structure at a May 9 debate at Fitchburg State University.

For both debates, each candidate’s name was placed on a piece of paper, folded up and drawn randomly from a bowl. (See the video at youtube.com/lowellsun .)

Yet despite that format, both panels feature similar divisions.

The first session will include Patrick Littlefield, Rufus Gifford, Jeff Ballinger, Leonard Golder, Barbara L’Italien and Beej Das. The first session at the May 9 debate also featured Littlefield, Gifford, Golder and Das in addition to Bopha Malone.

The second session will host Dan Koh, Lori Trahan, Alexandra Chandler, Juana Matias and Malone. Koh, Trahan, Chandler and Matias were all in the second session on May 9 as well, joined by Ballinger and L’Italien.

The panels would have looked more different had L’Italien and Golder not switched spots to accommodate candidates who got stuck in a traffic jam on Route 2 on debate night.

LOWELL ASSISTANT City Manager Michael McGovern was praised at his final City Council meeting last week.

McGovern is leaving to become Shirley town administrator.

McGovern, who was former City Manager Kevin Murphy’s trusted aide, said his Shirley contract should be finalized by Monday.

He does not have an final date with the city.

Reflecting on his time in the city manager’s office, McGovern said he owes a lot to Murphy for adding him to the administration team, leading to the job in Shirley.

City Manager Eileen Donoghue is expected to replace McGovern with Kara Keefe, her trusted Senate aide.

HELEN BRADY of Concord says she has secured enough signatures to make the ballot for state auditor this November.

The Republican is running against Democratic state Auditor Suzanne Bump.

In a statement, Brady said she will respect taxpayers and root out wasteful spending.

Brady lost a spirited race to Rep. Cory Atkins in the 14th Middlesex District race in 2016. Despite Atkins not seeking re-election this fall, the prospect of statewide office was apparently more appealing to Brady, the Boston Symphony Orchestra business director.

As it turns out, Brady would have had a clear path to the November race for rep. No other Republican stepped forward. That leaves three Democrats, Benjamin Bloomenthal and Tami Gouveia of Acton, and Christian Krueger of Concord, squaring off in the September primary.

BILLERICA SELECTMAN George Simolaris had announced months ago he’d run for the town’s state rep seat.

It was already going to be an uphill battle against Republican Rep. Marc Lombardo of the 22nd Middlesex District, who soundly defeated Simolaris in 2016.

Now it’s even more of a challenge: Simolaris missed a signature deadline, and won’t be on the fall ballot.

He said he will run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination in September.

Simolaris said he thought the deadline for signatures was May 8, but it was actually a week earlier.

“It was a mistake, an oversight,” Simolaris said. “I’ve been beating myself up over it.”

“I’m asking for residents to write in my name for the Democratic ballot, even though I’m not a typical staunch Democrat,” he later added.

Simolaris said he had plenty of signatures.

Those on the primary ballot other than Lombardo are Planning Board member Christopher Tribou, a Democrat, and Matthew Mixon, of the Second American Revolution. To face Lombardo in November, Simolaris would have to beat Tribou via write-ins.

COMEDIAN AND Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Jimmy Tingle took a spin last Wednesday through the office he hopes to occupy, sitting in for about 20 minutes of an interview conducted by the Governor’s Council.

The lieutenant governor chairs the regularly weekly assemblies of the Governor’s Council, the eight-member elected body dating back to colonial times that vets and votes on the governor’s judicial nominations.

The council also holds public interviews with judicial nominees that are generally not attended by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a Republican who is running for re-election with Gov. Charlie Baker.

Tingle, who faces Quentin Palfrey in the primary, attended one of those interviews Wednesday.

“I’m just familiarizing myself with it, and should I be elected I would just follow the governor’s lead on the Governor’s Council, and -- you’re basically an ambassador for the governor. So that’s why I wanted to come in and just check it out,” Tingle told the State House News Service after attending part of the council’s interview with Irene Bagdoian, a nominee for the Housing Court.

A 63-year-old Cambridge Democrat who has been active with the party for years, Tingle was on Beacon Hill with his new campaign manager, Sean Fitzgerald, who was Rep. Jay Kaufman’s chief of staff, on Wednesday morning when he decided to visit the council.

“I said, ‘I really want to go to the Governor’s Council. I want to see it in action.’ He goes, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I want to go.’ And I wasn’t sure if it was OK being a candidate if I could just walk in. So I just sat for 20 minutes just to be a fly on the wall, get a feel for it,” Tingle said.

Tingle left the council chambers just as Polito came in to chair the weekly assembly, which began after the scheduled noon start time.

When a reporter pointed out that Tingle had missed the one aspect of the Governor’s Council that requires participation by the lieutenant governor, he said, “Do you think I should go back in? Maybe I could come back.”

AS THE race for state representative for the 19th Middlesex District warms up, concerns with lawn signs have arose in Wilmington.

Town Manger Jeff Hull issued a press release concerning the signs that have been placed on private property. Wilmington’s bylaw prohibits signs being placed more than 45 days before an election (July 21).

Hull’s release added that due to a Supreme Court ruling, the town bylaw is “most likely unenforceable,” so the tow will not take action.

One Democrat, Judy O’Connell, a former Wilmington selectman said she is honoring the town bylaw. O’Connell wrote that residents are asking why she doesn’t have signs out when other candidates do.

She noted that signs can be placed in Tewksbury immediately.

STATE REP. Colleen Garry received an award for political advocacy on Wednesday by the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed with it,” Garry told The Column last Friday. “For the award to be for the protection of children, my core value is that children and the elderly are the most vulnerable in our community.

“To be recognized for my work with protection of children is something that I sit there and say ‘If I was going to receive an award, this is the one I’d like to receive,’” she said.

The Molly Bish Center and Foundation is named after Molly Bish, a 16-year-old lifeguard from Warren who disappeared in 2000 and whose remains were found three years later.

Garry received the honor last week from Molly’s mother, Magi Bish, in the State House during a commemoration of the 18th Missing Children’s Day in Massachusetts.

Contributing to The Column this week: Chris Lisinski in the 3rd Congressional District, Rick Sobey in Lowell, Billerica and Concord, Amaris Castillo in Dracut, Kori Tuitt in Wilmington, and the State House News Service.