On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Waltham held its preliminary elections to narrow the number of candidates running in the Nov. 7 general election. Waltham Mayor Jeanette A. McCarthy, a 19-year-incumbent seeking a record sixth-term, is being challenged by first-term Ward 9 City Councilor Jonathan Paz. They will both be advancing to the general election. Duane David Champagne Sr. appeared on the ballot, but he withdrew from the race in August after the deadline to be removed from the ballot. Both candidates are Democrats. If elected, Paz would be the first Latino person to be elected as mayor of Waltham. 

McCarthy received approximately 3096 votes, while Paz gained 1901 votes, with total voter turnout at 15% of registered Waltham voters. This is in line with turnout from 2019’s preliminary election, when 19% of registered voters participated and McCarthy went on to win with 62% of the vote.  

Despite McCarthy holding a nearly two-digit lead over Paz, these results are significantly closer than her previous reelection bid, in which she beat then-city councilor Diane P. LeBlanc with nearly a 30% margin. In the September 2019 preliminary race, McCarthy received 62% of the vote with about 900 more votes than she did in this round of preliminary elections. 

McCarthy and Paz remain close in campaign fundraising and spending. Since June 1, the Paz campaign has spent $15,408, compared to Mayor McCarthy's $13,988.54, per Massachusetts state records. However, McCarthy’s records indicate that she had an empty campaign account until the June 1 filing deadline, which means she raised and spent nearly $14,000 in three months. Paz began about three months earlier than McCarthy, fundraising and spending major campaign expenditures beginning in March, and he still holds a small advantage in “cash on-hand.” 

Paz recently picked the endorsement of Service Employees International Union 509. They declined to comment as to their reasoning for supporting his candidacy. 

As the race enters the six-week stretch, the contest appears to be heating up, at least in Waltham terms. Paz is hosting a campaign kickoff fundraiser on Sept. 28, candidate signs line the lawns of Waltham residents, while a mayoral debate tentatively scheduled on Oct. 26.