Editorial: Elect Mindy Domb in 3rd Hampshire District

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTOThe Daily Hampshire Gazette endorses Mindy Domb for state representative in the 3rd Hampshire District.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 8/16/2018 9:24:56 PM

Mindy Domb, who has spent more than three decades as a public health educator and activist helping some of the most vulnerable members of society, is our choice in the Democratic primary for state representative in the 3rd Hampshire District.

While she and her opponent, Eric Nakajima, agree on the major policies discussed during the campaign, it is Domb’s broad experience outside of government, compassionate approach to problem-solving and ability to build coalitions that sets her apart.

The winner of the Sept. 4 Democratic primary has no declared opposition in the Nov. 6 final election after incumbent Solomon Goldstein-Rose announced earlier this month that he would no longer seek re-election as an unenrolled candidate and endorsed Domb. “I’ve known Mindy Domb as a dedicated community servant, and I’ve found her passionate and articulate on her priority issues,” including food insecurity and other progressive policies, he said.

Domb and Nakajima entered the race shortly after Goldstein-Rose announced in February that he was leaving the Democratic Party to encourage a nonpartisan approach to government. He was elected in 2016 to succeed Ellen Story, who held the seat for 24 years before retiring. The 3rd Hampshire District comprises Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 of Granby.

Nakajima, the chairman of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, finished second behind Goldstein-Rose in the 2016 Democratic primary. Nakajima previously was director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and a housing and economic development official in the administration of former governor Deval Patrick.

A resident of Amherst for 20 years, Domb, 59, has been executive director of the Amherst Survival Center since 2013. Among her initiatives there is the Amherst-Area Diaper Drive that identified diapers as an essential need for low-income families. After the first drive in 2015 collected nearly 33,000 diapers, the Survival Center secured a $10,000 state grant in 2016 to support its diaper distribution program.

Domb has been a leader in developing treatment and education programs for people with HIV/AIDS, including co-founding the Berkshire AIDS Coalition where she helped start community-based services. Among them was an HIV education program at the Berkshire County House of Correction.

She also has led statewide training on public health issues for staff of drug and alcohol treatment programs, jails and homeless shelters.

“I believe the essence of government is to respond to the needs of our communities, and the most vulnerable,” says Domb. “My experience has taught me that social change happens in coalition with others, and that’s my strategy moving forward.”

Domb supports a single-payer health care system; tuition-free community colleges and trade schools; expanding earned income tax credits to support to low- and moderate-income working parents; restoring full dental benefits to recipients of MassHealth; adopting the Healthy Youth Act, which would ensure that sexual health education programs in schools provide age-appropriate and medically accurate information; greater investment in public transportation and electric vehicles; and increasing incentives for renewable energy such as solar and wind.

Domb often qualifies her position on an issue — imposing a carbon fee to reduce emissions that produce greenhouse gases, for example — by questioning how it might adversely affect low-income people.

Among Domb’s attributes as a leader is her ability to put herself in the place of a constituent with a problem. She relates an anecdote about how she was told a year after becoming executive director of the Survival Center how difficult it was to get there by bus. She lugged some grocery bags from the nearest bus stop to better understand the problem, and then convinced the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority to add a stop at the Survival Center.

“Listening and finding ways to help people will be my first priority as your state representative because I believe that’s how we make government work for everyone,” she says.

We commend Domb and Nakajima for debating knowledgeably about the issues facing the Senate district and the state. Among Nakajima’s priorities is public education, and we hope he continues his important work leading the regional school committee.

We urge voters in the 3rd Hampshire District to send Domb to the Statehouse where her rich experience in public health and social services, compassionate advocacy and coalition-building skills will make her an effective legislator.

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