Ex-senator, firefighter vying for 2nd Essex-Middlesex seat


Sixth in a series of stories profiling Greater Lowell area state representative and senator legislative contests

DRACUT — The race for the 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate seat is between Andover attorney and former state Sen. Barry Finegold and Mike Armano, a Lawrence firefighter and first-time candidate. Who will voters choose to succeed Sen. Barbara L’Italien on Sept. 4?

“Being involved in the union, bringing back legislative issues, seeing how we fight for them — I didn’t want to leave the seat in the hands of just anybody,” said Armano last week. “I didn’t want to sit back anymore. I wanted to do something bigger and, as we say in the fire service, leave it better than you found it.”

Armano, a Dracut resident who works as a lieutenant of fire prevention for the Lawrence Fire Department, said public service runs in his blood. His father, Mike Sr., served for the Lawrence Fire Department, his late grandfather, Domenic Armano, was with the Lawrence Police Department and served as an at-large city councilor, and his great grandfather, Mariano “Mike” Armano, was a union leader.

Finegold said that, at this point in his life, it’s not about fame or glory, but a sense of service and helping people.

“I still feel I have a lot to offer and I think my experience can be an asset,” Finegold said Monday during a stop at The Sun’s office. “We’ve never had a time in the Merrimack Valley where we’re having such turnover… it’s really going to be a young — for lack of a better expression — a newer team and I think with my experience, I’m ready to go from day one.”

The 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate District includes Lawrence, Dracut, Andover, and Tewksbury.

Asked about his qualifications, Armano said he is “certainly not a career politician.”

“I have a lot of experience in politics and in the community. In my role in fire prevention, I work with department heads all the time… I’ve drafted ordinances on behalf of the chief,” Armano said. “I have a lot of municipal experience. Although I work with politicians, I’ve never been one myself.”

If elected, Finegold said he’d address education and increasing funding for schools within the district, health care, and transportation.

“We need increased dollars for transportation because the traffic is just tough,” Finegold said. “I think with (Route) 38, we’re going to have to find ways of widening or having better signalization.”

Armano said, if elected, three issues he’d tackle first are public safety, the opioid crisis, and housing.

“I think it’s an issue that every part of the district struggles with, for different reasons,” Armano said of housing. “In Dracut, there’s a struggle to get affordable housing for elderly and retirees. In Lawrence, the median income is one of the lowest in the state and it’s a struggle just to find affordable housing.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastilllo

COMING TOMORROW: Reporter Aaron Curtis, acurtis@lowellsun.com, profiles the two-way race for Middlesex District Attorney.