While 2019 was considered an off-year election because it had neither a presidential nor a congressional race, Fair Haven’s Council election results were unprecedented. Two first-time Democratic council candidates beat two Republican incumbents. There’s never been more than two Democrats serving on the Fair Haven council at a time. Now, Meghan Christner-Keefe and Michael McCue’s win will evenly split the council, a first for this longtime Republican stronghold.
There’s never been more than two Democrats serving on the Fair Haven council at a time.
With six seats on council, there are currently five Republicans and one Democrat. Christopher Rodriguez has been the sole Democrat since 2016. Betsy Koch, Jim Banahan, Susan Sorensen, Jacqueline Rice, and Jonathan Peters are Republicans. Mayor Ben Lucarelli, a Republican serving a four-year term, presides over the meetings and votes only if a tie-breaking vote is needed. Political newcomers Christner-Keefe and McCue not only won the election with 32.6% and 30% of the 3,156 votes cast, respectively, but won in every one of the six districts — even those who historically vote Republican. They ousted 15-year Republican incumbent Peters and his running mate incumbent Jacqueline Rice (who was running for her first full term).
The landslide victory was announced at the Fair Haven Democrats’ election-night party on November fifth. Participants seemed stunned, stressing that this atypical win was a result of myriad issues; including the town’s on-going lawsuit with Fair Haven Yacht Works (which is owned by former Fire Chief Jim Cerruti), the dispute about a Dunkin’ Donuts opening in town, brush grinding complaints, and outcries about a proposed three-story borough hall building. Many meetings over the past year had to be moved to a larger space due to the outpouring of resident concern over these issues.
Meghan Christner-Keefe and Michael McCue both grew up in Fair Haven and attended public school there. They returned to raise their families in their hometown — Christner-Keefe as a lawyer and mother of four and McCue as a former Marine and current middle-school history teacher and father of two.