Voters give non-binding ballot questions on renewable energy, open-door government widespread support

  • Processed requests for early voting and mail-in ballot’s at the Easthampton City clerks office. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2020 5:53:54 PM
Modified: 11/4/2020 5:53:41 PM

Ballot questions pushing for the state to pursue 100% renewable energy by 2040, and requiring members of the state Legislature to reveal all votes taken in committees, received widespread support from voters at Tuesday’s election.

The nonbinding initiatives, presented to voters in the districts of Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, Rep. Daniel Carey, D-Easthampton and Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, appeared to pass by large margins in each of the communities they serve.

The first instructs the representative to vote in favor of legislation that would require Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy use within the next two decades, while the second asks the representative to vote in favor of changes to make the results of all the votes in legislative committees publicly available on the state Legislature’s website.

In Amherst, the largest of three towns Domb serves, support for getting to complete renewable energy in the state within 20 years was at better than 88%, with 9,290 in favor and 1,237 against, while the government transparency measure saw even more voters in favor, at over 94%, with 9,730 voting yes and just 596 voting no.

Margins of approval were not quite as large in Easthampton, one of the four communities in Carey’s district, but renewable energy still got about three-quarters support, 7,263 to 2,439, and the transparent government article had 87% favorability, 8,341 to 1,201.

In Sunderland, one of the 19 towns Blais represents, 77% of voters supported the renewable energy question, 1,485 to 433, and transparent government received 89% support, 1,689 to 208.

Carey said Wednesday that though the questions are nonbinding, he appreciates that they provide information about voter sentiment and that he always wants as much feedback as possible to best represent voters.

“It gives me a great indication of how constituents feel about those issues,” Carey said.

Though not obligated to take action on them, Carey said having these votes will be helpful in preparing topics to be considered when the Legislature’s next session convenes in January.

Domb said the support in her district for the nonbinding questions shows that she is on the same page with voters on these topics and that they can inform her legislative work, advocacy and conversations with constituents.

“I already support the timeline for achieving 100% renewable energy and co-sponsor legislation filed by Rep. (Marjorie) Decker that seeks to achieve that,” Domb said.

Domb also supports transparency in individual and committee work, and has previously voted for such changes in her committees, and posts her committee votes online.

Blais said she is mindful of all input she receives and hopes to speak to the advocacy groups that got the questions on the ballot. Blais notes that she has been a strong proponent for leadership on climate change.

But Blais added that before commenting further, she will make sure to have an understanding of how voters in each town she represents voted.

“I look forward to the official results for the non-binding questions for all of the communities in the 1st Franklin District,” Blais said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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