|Nov 9, 2005
Newcomer Smith takes it
Major upset for council
By Martin Luttrell TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
|City Council District 1|
|Joffrey A. Smith…2,742
Thomas P. White*…2,500
WORCESTER — Last spring, Joffrey A. Smith took on City Councilor Frederick C. Rushton in the Give Kids a Fightin’ Chance celebrity boxing show, giving away 50 or so pounds, yet jabbing and counterpunching his way to an impressive showing in losing a decision.
Yesterday, the political newcomer scored a major upset against incumbent District 1 Councilor Thomas P. White in the municipal election, overcoming his opponent’s name recognition with a relentless campaign to derail Mr. White’s bid for a second term.
About an hour after the 8 p.m. closing of the polls, Mr. Smith, wearing a black suit and red tie, walked to the top of the steps in the SPQR Cafe on Winter Street and addressed family and supporters at a victory party.
“Without all of you, none of this would have happened,” he said to a swell of cheers. “We ran a great campaign. You all invested a lot of time and money in me. Now I can go ahead with the campaign issues we stood for. I’m going to get out there and fight to make it happen.”
Mr. Smith garnered 2,742 votes to Mr. White’s 2,500, winning by an edge of almost 4 percentage points.
The key to victory, Mr. Smith said, was to meet as many people as possible and work hard to get out his name and message.
“I knew I was going up against a strong opponent,” he said, as well-wishers stopped by to shake his hand. “He had a strong name and a strong base. I knew I was going to have to go over and beyond. Now I can fulfill my campaign promises.”
A few minutes earlier, Mr. White entered the cafe to extend his congratulations and offer to help Mr. Smith in the transition.
“I told him I’d love it,” Mr. Smith said. “I’d like to have his help, with all his experience.”
In the days before the election, Mr. White said that he felt optimistic of victory, but tempered his optimism by acknowledging that the candidate that does the better job of getting supporters to the polls usually wins. He credited his opponent with working hard and running a good campaign.
“Nothing is really surprising in a two-person race,” Mr. White said in a telephone interview. “You try to get your vote out. I think we got it out as well as we could.
“I think he handled himself well. He worked extremely hard. I congratulate him. I can’t be critical of someone who knocked on doors and did all the things I did when I was his age. I’ll offer to help him as much as I can. When you’ve been around as long as I have, there comes a time when people start to want a change. I understand that.
“I leave this public life with absolutely zero regret. I’m grateful to my family and friends for their support. I’m grateful to the people who supported me for over 18 years. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ll always be around government in one form or another. It’s all I know. I plan to be a citizen of Worcester for a long time, and I plan to be an active citizen.”
Mr. White, 55, of 31 Chadwick St., works at the Registry of Deeds office in Fitchburg. He holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
He served six terms as a state representative and two terms in the state Senate.
In the last weeks of the campaign, both candidates spent money on mailings and phone work, and Mr. Smith took out print ads.
Mr. Smith, 24, of 37 Barry Road, has said that public safety, repair of streets and sidewalks and expanding the tax base to keep residential taxes down are the main issues facing the district.
Mr. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Hartford and is employed as a partner at New York Life.
Mr. Smith was endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 378 and the Telegram & Gazette editorial board. Mr. White was endorsed by Worcester Magazine, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1009, and Local 495 of the National Association of Government Employees.