On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Jeannette A. McCarthy was re-elected mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts for her sixth consecutive four-year term, defeating Jonathan Paz, a second-term city councilor from Ward 9. McCarthy won 58% percent of the vote, with Paz pulling in nearly 40%. Voter turnout was consistent with previous years, with 11,395 voters casting ballots — accounting for only 32% of registered Waltham voters. McCarthy secured 6,628 votes as opposed to Paz’s 4,551; in 2019, 34% (11,790) of Waltham voters went to the polls, with McCarthy winning 3,770 more votes than all of her competitors combined. Paz and McCarthy were the only candidates for mayor; the election is non-partisan, though based on a Nov. 3 email correspondence with City Clerk Joseph W. Vizrad, the Justice found that McCarthy is “unenrolled” in a party, while Paz is a Democrat. 

In the final weeks of the race, Paz sent a mailer to Waltham residents accusing McCarthy of campaigning with Geoff Diehl, the 2018 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and 2022 Republican pick for Massachusetts governor who was endorsed by former President Trump. It read in bold letters, “Are Jeannette McCarthy's values really Waltham's values? Mayor campaigned for Trump ally Geoff Diehl.” President Joseph R. Biden, a Democrat, had won Waltham about 71% to Trump’s 26%. 

In response to questioning from the Waltham Community Access Corporation on Nov. 6, McCarthy denounced the accusation as “not true.” She attended the Republican event at the invitation of the Waltham Republican Club, while also regularly joining the Democratic club when invited. In information obtained through a public records request from City Clerk Joseph W. Vizard, the Justice learned that McCarthy is officially “unenrolled” in any political party, backing up her public explanation of being an Independent. The Justice could not independently confirm Paz’s claims.

McCarthy herself sent out two mailers in the final portion of the campaign, beginning in the late summer. In big paragraphs and tight margins, McCarthy laid out a detailed defense of her past service in Waltham city government, qualifications for continuing as mayor, and called into question Paz’s record in serving the Waltham government by highlighting his relative youth and lack of experience.

Based on McCarthy’s pitch in the Oct. 26 debate and elsewhere, in this coming term she hopes to focus on traffic issues, the completion of Waltham High School, building a new police station, and expanding public transportation. One of the mayor’s long-term goals is to build a multimodal transportation center, but in the meantime, she plans to improve efficiency by synchronizing the traffic lights. On the Monday, Nov. 13 City Council meeting, McCarthy requested $9,700 for a new traffic control device.

Another priority of McCarthy’s is redeveloping the land of the now-defunct Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center, a mental health hospital with a contentious reputation, into a memorial, recreational area, housing, and nature reserve. In the Nov. 13 ask, the mayor is seeking a $9.5 million dollar loan to support efforts to build out the Fernald area. During the campaign, Paz went after McCarthy for her approach to the Fernald, calling it “as shallow as it is unambitious,”
wasting taxpayer dollars, neglectfully memorizing the victims of mistreatment at the Fernald,  and unnecessarily delaying projects.

The issues of importance — local challenges such as traffic, land use, and rodent control — are the ones that played a key role in this race for Waltham mayor.