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Springfield City Council president Jesse Lederman joins mayoral race

 Springfield City Council president Jesse Lederman addressing supporters after announcing his candidacy for mayor.
Adam Frenier
Springfield City Council president Jesse Lederman addressing supporters after announcing his candidacy for mayor.

The field for Springfield’s 2023 mayoral election grew again on Tuesday, when City Council President Jesse Lederman announced his candidacy. He joins incumbent Mayor Domenic Sarno, City Councilor Justin Hurst and psychotherapist David Ciampi.

Lederman, 27, a three-term councilor, said after addressing supporters he is running for mayor in order to create a government that can meet the needs of all of Springfield's neighborhoods. During his campaign, he said he plans to focus on quality of life issues facing the city's residents, economic development and improving schools.

Lederman was front-and-center in pushing to sue current Mayor Domenic Sarno over implementing the Board of Police Commissioners. The council won the case and Lederman seemed to criticize the Sarno administration for how the board has been rolled out.

"It's time to move on from that fight,” he said. It's time for an administration that will implement the police commission the way that it should be so that we can have a just system for our residents, for our officers."

Lederman has instituted oversight hearings before the council to monitor the progress of the police commission. There’s been confusion over what powers the police board has, complaints it does not have enough in the way of resources and a controversial vote last November to reinstate two Springfield officers convicted of an off-duty assault during a brawl outside a city bar in 2015.

Just like the other challengers to Sarno, Lederman is well behind the mayor in terms of campaign cash. According to state data, Sarno had $307,000 on hand as of the end of January, well more than the other three combined. Hurst sat at $43,000, Lederman $19,000 and Ciampi $407.

When asked about fundraising, Lederman downplayed its impact, saying: “Money doesn't win elections, people, principles and ideas win elections and that's what we're going to bring to this race.”

Lederman said his campaigns in the past had raised plenty of money and he was confident that would still be the case in this latest bid.

The two other challengers, Hurst and Ciampi welcomed Lederman into the race.

Hurst said of Lederman and Ciampi: “their being in the race has no bearing on our strategy and how we move forward,” and that his focus remained on his own campaign.

Ciampi, meanwhile, said he was “delighted” Lederman chose to run for mayor.

"I believe this is a real healthy indication of a robust Democracy when we have people willing to share their views, their proposals for how Springfield can be a better place for the people that live here," he said.

Sarno, in a statement, did not acknowledge Lederman entering the race, instead reiterating that he has "every intention of seeking re-election and I will make a formal announcement at the appropriate time.”

The crowded field challenging Sarno, who was first elected in 2007 and is the longest serving mayor in Springfield’s history, could continue to grow. State Rep. Orlando Ramos, D-Springfield, has said he is still considering whether to run. And, with nomination papers not due back until June 6, more candidates could immerge.

Assuming more than two candidates get the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot, a preliminary election would be required and held on Sept. 12. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.

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