Five former candidates endorse Lang for mayor

By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

This article appeared on October 27, 2005 in the Standard Times
NEW BEDFORD — Five of the seven mayoral candidates who were eliminated in the Oct. 4 preliminary election publicly endorsed Scott W. Lang yesterday.

Matthew A. Morrissey, Dennis G. Dallaire Jr., Mark A. Howland, Fernando Coelho and Thomas J. Pina stood with Mr. Lang at a press conference at Freestone’s Grill wearing “Lang for Mayor” buttons.

Combined, the five candidates earned about 35 percent of the vote in the preliminary, a total of 6,258 votes. Mr. Lang won the preliminary election with 37 percent of the vote (6,719 votes), while Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr. earned 27 percent (4,938 votes).

Two other mayoral candidates, Michael Janson and Michael Zaritt, earned a combined 80 votes and did not attend the endorsement press conference.

“Each one of these candidates contributed a great deal to the campaign, and to me,” Mr. Lang said as he introduced them. “This is going to be a unified effort to change this city.”

Mr. Morrissey (15 percent, or 2,742 votes in the preliminary) was one of the first of the unsuccessful mayoral candidates to back Mr. Lang.

“We all came from different campaigns, different backgrounds, and we’ve all united in backing Scott Lang,” Mr. Morrissey said. “Let’s finish the job that all of us started, and get out and vote for Scott Lang.”

Mr. Howland (5 percent, 954 votes), who endorsed Mr. Lang on WBSM-AM immediately after the election, said he has known Mr. Lang for years. Mr. Lang represented the police and fire unions in Freetown when Mr. Howland was a selectman there.

“He is a good man; his word is one that I could always trust,” Mr. Howland said.

Perhaps the most surprising endorsement of Mr. Lang was Mr. Dallaire’s (12 percent, 2,288 votes), who immediately after the preliminary results were in said he would not endorse Mr. Lang or Mayor Kalisz. At the time, he said that choosing either would represent “business as usual” in New Bedford and that, “The most qualified candidate did not win the primary.”

Yesterday, Mr. Dallaire changed his tune. “From the first time I met Scott, I liked him, and I respected him. Public safety was a cornerstone of both our campaigns. It’s time for a change, and Scott will be the one to bring that change.”

Mr. Dallaire said that he came to the decision to endorse after talking with his supporters and with Mr. Lang. “I ran a long, competitive campaign. I’m a competitor, and the electorate did not choose who I wanted,” he said. Before the press conference, he said his supporters had urged him to endorse Mr. Lang.

Mr. Coelho (1 percent, 216 votes) said that Mr. Lang would be New Bedford’s next mayor. Mr. Pina (.3 percent, 58 votes) endorsed Mr. Lang with his presence at the press conference, but talked about outsiders coming into the city and taking all the jobs.

When asked, all of the candidates said they had not been offered jobs in a Lang mayoral administration, should Mr. Lang be elected.

In a prepared release, Mr. Lang said he is grateful for the support of the five former candidates.

“It is a good sign for New Bedford when former political rivals can put aside their differences and work for a better future for our city,” he wrote.