Sarno announces reelection bid: ‘I’m hungry and there’s more to be done’

SPRINGFIELD — Domenic J. Sarno officially announced he would seek another term as Springfield’s longest-running mayor, setting the stage for a municipal race where, for the first time in several years, he faces a field of seasoned political challengers.

“It’s a big job,” Sarno said in a video posted to Facebook Wednesday announcing his reelection rally at the Greek Cultural Center. “We’ve come a long way, but I’m hungry, and there’s more to be done.”

As Sarno listed off his accomplishments as mayor, around 500 supporters at the event met each achievement with screaming applause. Several dozen had to stand in the back of the room as Sarno described his goals.

He said his first priority is to continue to lead the city’s war against crime.

“The brave and dedicated men and women in blue have worked hard,” Sarno said. “Let me be clear: Criminals will not rule our streets.”

Sarno said he would work with Police Superintendent Cheryl C. Clapprood, District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni and Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi to ensure this goal is completed.

Additionally, he plans to continue to fund economic development projects in the city’s downtown, improve infrastructure and build new schools.

“I’m going to lobby hard to get a new courthouse on North Riverfront area,” Sarno said. “Housing is a number one issue. We’re going to continue to move on that because I believe I have the most aggressive pace of first-time homebuyers in the city of Springfield.”

When Sarno first became mayor, he said the high school graduation rate was hovering around 50%, but that rate is now at 86%, a number he hopes to continue to grow.

“The more you keep our kids in school, the better opportunities they’re going to continue to have,” he said.

First elected in November 2007, Sarno has overseen MGM Springfield’s arrival to the city, the revitalization of Union Station, recovery after the 2011 tornado and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his time in office, the resident of Forest Park neighborhood has seen his two daughters go from being in elementary school all the way up to college. Before occupying the office at 36 Court St., Sarno was a city councilor and he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Westfield State University.

Sarno’s aspirations for yet another reelection bid were no secret. In December, his campaign had approximately $173,000 in cash on hand and he said he was waiting to formalize his run with an announcement “at the appropriate time.” And in January 2020, weeks after starting his fifth term, he already had an eye to the event Wednesday.

“I love this job and I will be running for reelection in 2023,” he told a reporter at the time.

But this time around, he faces challengers who are veterans of municipal politics.

During his 2015 campaign, Sarno handily bested a field of challengers during the September preliminary election, garnering 5,088 votes. The runner-up, Salvatore Circosta, received a mere 576 votes in the election designed to winnow down field for the election in November.

In that campaign, Sarno decided he would not sit down to debate Circosta.

In 2019, Sarno ran against Yolanda Cancel, a community organizer. In that race, Sarno — running a campaign focused on job creation, economic development and public safety — won the preliminary election by a 4-1 margin.

Four years ago, Orlando Ramos, then a city councilor, opted to sit out the mayoral race saying the timing was not right. But Ramos, now a Democratic state representative for Springfield, officially challenged Sarno in mid-February.

Before Ramos’ announcement, five-term City Councilor Justin Hurst was the first candidate to say he was officially seeking the mayoral office in the 2023 elections, making his declaration in early December. His announcement was followed by City Council President Jesse Lederman’s in February.

David F. Ciampi, a counselor and psychotherapist, has also said he is running.

Candidates in municipal elections have until June 2 to obtain nomination papers and June 6 to submit them.

All mayoral and city council candidates will campaign through the summer until the preliminary election, currently scheduled for Sept. 12.

The final election will place on Nov. 7.

Sarno currently leads the fundraising race with $242,917.62 in cash on hand, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Meanwhile, Ramos has $51,163.69 in his war chest, Hurst has $36,646.64, Lederman has $15,896.12 and Ciampi has $219.66.

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