Lowell City Council Election Results 2021

Lowell, Massachusetts held its first hybrid at-large and district election system on November 2nd, 2021. The results brought a diverse change that the minority community has long waited to see since the lawsuit. There are five new elected city councilors.

The city council added another Cambodian American to the seat, Paul Ratha Yem, representing the Acre in district 7. In addition, it retained two Cambodian American incumbents: Vesna Nuon, councilman at-large, was re-elected and topped the ticket, and incumbent Sokhary Chau was re-elected in district 6.

The progressive results can be seen in the 5th district, where a woman was elected to the city council: Kimberly Scott. Corey Robinson, of black and Irish descent, was elected in Centralville of district 2.

In district 8, Ty Chum lost to Erik Gitschier, district 1 in Pawtucketvill, Rodney Elliott, a long time serving councilor for 24 years, lost to incumbent Dan Rourke. In district 3, Mayor John Leahy ousted incumbent Bill Samaras, and district 4, the downtown elected Wayne Jenness. The remaining two at-large seats went to incumbent Rita Mercier and John Drinkwater.

The achievement of the first ever diverse council in this election is part of councilman at-large Vesna Nuon’s efforts, whose support of this charter change early on allowed neighborhood representation.

The tally of the votes received by at-large council elected as follows:

Vesna Nuon, 6,156 votes

Rita Mercier, 5,875 votes

John Drinkwater, 5,696 votes

The elected district councilors and number of votes they received are as followed:

District 1 – Daniel Rourke, 1,068 votes

District 2 – Corey Robinson, 1,030 votes

District 3 – John Leahy, 1,454 votes

District 4 – Wayne Jenness, 530 votes

District 5 – Kimberly Scott, 659 votes

District 6 – Sokhary Chau, 758 votes

District 7 – Paul Ratha Yem, 454 votes

District 8 – Erik Gitschier, 1,116 votes

The ballot question to change the system of city councilors voting for the mayor to the public voting for the mayor has passed at 75.50%, with 7,429 votes. Simultaneously, councilman Vesna Nuon, who received the highest votes in the city-wide, is running for mayor and is being challenged by district councilor Sokhary Chau from district 6. There is a hole in the lawsuit settlement that focused only on district, without changing the mayor system, that has caused the controversy, as district elected councilors rallied up against at-large councilman Nuon for a mayor seat. This will not happen in the next term, as the system will effectively change so that the public will vote for the mayor. The current situation places councilman Nuon, who advocated for the change, into an uneasy position, without proper reward for his efforts.