Valley voters prepare for big day

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  • Russell Jordan of Amherst pauses in Northampton's Pulaski Park on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about his plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Joe Tarantino of Northampton stops on Main Street in Northampton on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about his plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katharine Whittemore of Leeds stops on Main Street in Northampton on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about her plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Alicia Noble of Florence pauses in Northampton's Pulaski Park on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about her plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jaiden Clarke, 16, of Florence stops on Main Street in Northampton on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about his plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Joe Tarantino of Northampton stops on Main Street in Northampton, Monday, to talk about his plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katharine Whittemore of Leeds stops on Main Street in Northampton on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about her plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Russell Jordan of Amherst pauses in Northampton's Pulaski Park on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, to talk with the Gazette about his plans for watching election coverage Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2020 8:49:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Thomas Peake, an Easthampton city councilor and economist, has been dreaming about the election night of 2020 for a while, imagining himself watching with other supporters of ranked-choice voting at a bar or hotel as the voting method is adopted statewide.

“I’ve been working with the ranked-choice voting people for four years,” said Peake.

But the COVID-19 pandemic means that won’t happen. Instead, Peake will be watching the election results come in from his home, after a day of standing outside the polls with a Yes On 2 sign — the ballot initiative that would put ranked choice voting into place for state and federal, although not presidential, races.

Peake is certainly not alone in the Pioneer Valley with his plans for a quiet election night.

Katharine Whittemore, 59, of Leeds, will be watching the election with her husband and daughter at home. Whittemore plans on drinking white wine and ordering a pizza from Pizza Factory. And like most of the people interviewed on Main Street in Northampton the day before the election, she’s hoping that former Vice President Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump.

“I am a staunch supporter of Joe Biden,” she said.

Whittemore was downtown on Monday to get an emergency absentee ballot for her husband because he has to quarantine for COVID-19 purposes, although he has tested negative for the disease.

“I’m really glad that I can do that at the last minute,” she said.

Russell Jordan, 63, a disabled veteran, plans on watching the election by himself in his apartment in Amherst.

“I just want Trump to lose and Biden to win,” he said.

Jordan said he will be voting on Election Day, expressing a fear that Trump would try to deny mail-in votes.

Not everyone in the Pioneer Valley is pulling for the vice president.

Joe Tarantino, speaking on Main Street in Northampton, said he thinks the president has a greater than 50% chance of victory, and that he’s hoping for a Trump win.

“I don’t like Trump, but I respect him,” said Tarantino.

As for Biden, Tarantino described him as a “swamp fossil” associated with corruption.

Tarantino, 55, of Northampton, said that he will be watching the election at his residence, and he indicated that the Iron Range region of Minnesota would be an area that he’ll be watching.

Tarantino said that if Trump is doing better there than in his last election “it’ll be a replay of 2016.”

He also said that he’ll be looking at the results from the Florida Panhandle.

Maeve Barry, 23, a creative writing teacher, grew up in Amherst but lives in the New York borough of Brooklyn. Visiting the Pioneer Valley for a doctor’s appointment, she said she might stress-eat on election night, and is hoping for a Biden win.

“I’m pretty anxious,” she said.

She also said that she’s going to ask her students to write about the election.

Jaiden Clarke, 16, of Florence can’t vote this election, but he is hoping that Trump isn’t re-elected.

“He’s not the smartest president,” he said.

Marty Nathan, 69, of Northampton, is hoping for a Biden win, and will be watching the election with her husband and their housemate.

She said she doesn’t expect the race to be called Tuesday night, but does expect to see movement toward Biden and a Democratic Senate.

“It looks very likely that Biden will win,” said Nathan. “I’m thinking a lot about our responsibility when that happens.”

Nathan cited fighting racism, combating climate change, ending COVID-19 and reversing economic policies that are impoverishing people as efforts that will require far more energy than getting Trump out of office.

“It’s going to be a long haul,” she said.

Nov. 3 also has extra significance for Nathan because it’s the 41st anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre, which saw her first husband, Michael Nathan, murdered after members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party opened fire on anti-Klan demonstrators. Michael Nathan was one of five who were killed.

“History can change on a dime,” said Nathan. “That’s what happened to us.”

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, represents much of Hampshire County in Congress. Normally, the congressman would watch the results come in with a large gathering of his supporters, but this year he’ll be watching at either his house or his sister’s house.

“It’s not wise or safe to gather the usual crowd together,” said McGovern.

He expressed confidence at both his and Biden’s chances for election.

“I think he’s going to win,” said McGovern, speaking of the vice president. “What we have to be fearful of is Donald Trump trying to steal the election away from him.”

McGovern will be touring multiple communities in his district on Tuesday, starting with Northampton. He also said that he plans on ordering Italian food for election night, as there isn’t time to cook.

Peake said he’s worried that the president will try to stop states from counting votes when he is ahead and before all the mail ballots have been counted.

“He’s just repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn’t actually believe in democracy,” said Peake.

He also said that if Biden is ahead in a state on election night, he’s probably going to win that state because mail-in ballots tend to be counted later and they trend toward Democrats. Similarly, he said that mail-in ballots could flip the results in states where Trump is ahead on election night.

At the same time, Peake acknowledged that he was wrong in his election prognostications four years ago.

“This has been a weird last couple of years,” he said. “I am certainly not ruling anything out.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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