Editorial: Voters showed strength in numbers — let’s do it again in November 

  • Voters during the primary elections in Westhampton Tuesday, September 4, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/Carol Lollis

Published: 9/6/2018 8:11:56 AM

Hampshire County voters on Tuesday took a major step forward in determining who will represent them on Beacon Hill, in Congress and in towns such as Amherst and Southampton.  

In an historic primary election, a new wave of Democratic candidates emerged victorious in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hampshire districts, and the 1st Franklin District in the House as well as in the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District, a seat that had been held since 1991 by former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst.

For voters, there was something for everyone on Tuesday — and they were energized. Turnout was strong in many communities, hitting 50 percent in Northampton, and voters’ voices were heard throughout the day acknowledging the magnitude of the election.

One Easthampton voter at the polls described the opportunity to put a new senator and state representative in office as “a big deal,” while a Hadley voter told a Gazette reporter at the polls that “change is good for the soul.” Others cited their civic duty to vote and said they had taken the time to get to know the many candidates in advance of the primary.

We hope to see more of this kind of energy and excitement in November.

Women won four of the legislative seats, marking the dawn of a new legislative era for western Massachusetts. Apart from the 2nd Hampshire District, where a Republican challenger is on ballot in the November general election, the Democratic primary winners are all locks to win on Nov. 6, with no declared opposition.

In a closely watched race for the high-profile Senate seat, Jo Comerford ran a remarkable write-in campaign, defeating Chelsea Kline, who received the second most votes and was the only candidate on the ballot in a district that covers 24 communities. Two other write-in candidates, Ryan O’Donnell and Steven Connor, finished a distant third and fourth. All of the candidates hail from Northampton.

In the 1st Hampshire District, progressive Democrat Lindsay Sabadosa, of Northampton, beat Diana Szynal, of Hatfield, to fill a seat long held by the late state Rep. Peter V. Kocot, D-Northampton, who died in February. Szynal is the current district director who worked under Kocot. Mindy Domb, of Amherst, won a decisive victory over fellow town resident Eric Nakajima, sweeping all 10 of Amherst’s precincts and winning Pelham and Granby’s Precinct 1.

Natalie Blais, of Sunderland, took the sprawling 1stFranklin District in a field of seven strong candidates, and is set to replace retiring state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, the longtime vice chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means . Easthampton City Councilor Daniel Carey won in the 2nd Hampshire District, a seat once held by his grandfather and for the last 16 years held by retiring state Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley.

Elsewhere, incumbent state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, won decisively in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester District over challenger Thomas Wickham of Lee. Amherst voters whittled their field of Town Council candidates from 33 to 26; and, in Southampton, Matt Roland unseated Charles Kaniecki by 216 votes after the two candidates deadlocked in a rare tie in a May town election.

And in the 1st Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, topped Springfield lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud. Amatul-Wadud ran a spirited campaign that not only drew national attention, but elevated issues on the campaign trail and gave Democratic voters a choice for the first time in years in the district.

The election also brought surprise elsewhere in the state. In a stunning upset, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in the 7th Congressional District for the Democratic nomination, while longtime state Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Byron Rushing, assistant majority leader in the House, both lost to Democratic challengers.

In addition to celebrating Tuesday’s winners, we also appreciate those who ran for office but came up short. They helped give constituents across the Pioneer Valley a meaningful and extraordinary ;primary election that has not only changed the legislative landscape, but also given voters a new voice.




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