Belsito is first Democrat to take 4th Essex since 1858

Jamie Belsito has won the 4th Essex District seat, the first Democrat to do so in 163 years, according to initial results from town clerks in the district.

The Democrat took on Republican Robert Snow of Rowley to see who would win the Statehouse seat vacated by Brad Hill. He stepped down earlier this year to become a commissioner with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Hill, a Republican from Ipswich, served for 23 years.

Snow conceded around 8:30 p.m., Tuesday. The final unofficial tally was 2,504 to 2,016.

With all six towns reporting — Ipswich, Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham, Manchester and Rowley — Belsito led with 55.4% of the vote to Snow’s 44.6%. Belsito won every town except Rowley.

Turnout was low, around 15%.

A Republican in a Democratic-dominated House, Hill was second-in-command in the House minority caucus.

He was first elected in 1998, when he beat Democrat Patrick McNally 63% to 37%, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office. Both candidates were former Ipswich selectmen.

After his first election, Hill faced down a few challengers. He was also returned unopposed on many other years.

His first contested race came from Libertarian Francis Mackay-Smith in 2000, but Hill beat him 85% to 15%. Hill saw off challenges with comfortable margins in 2004 (Democrat Timothy A. Purinton) and 2008 (Democrat Donald R. Bumiller).

His last challenge, and closest election, was in 2018. Democrat Allison Gustavson got 43.6% of the vote, while Hill won with 56.3%.

Belsito will serve for one year until the regular elections next year. However, redistricting means major changes are in store and she will not even be resident in what will become the 2nd Essex District.