When voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6 — if they haven’t already done so under early voting provisions — the state ballot they’ll see is a lengthy one, featuring candidates in 14 races and three ballot questions.
Hanson voters, meanwhile, will see a separate town election ballot with two more questions to determine whether the town will permit recreational cannabis retailers in town.
Polls on Election Day are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hanson voters cast ballots at Hanson Middle School for all precincts. Whitman voters cast ballots at the Town Hall Auditoriums for all precincts.
The two Hanson cannabis questions entail changes to both the General Bylaws and Zoning Bylaws, both of which require a “yes” vote to block retail cannabis businesses in the town. Whitman voters have already prohibited such sales in their town.
Hanson’s town ballot question 1 pertains to the General Bylaws and question 2 involves the Zoning Bylaws.
Voters at special Town Meeting Monday, Oct. 1 narrowly approved an article amending the General Bylaws in order to prohibit the retail sale of recreational cannabis products, but failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required by a second article to amend the town’s Zoning Bylaws.
Both will also appear on the Nov. 6 town ballot, but the zoning question is effectively moot — leaving the town to depend on a bylaw approved in May restricting retail marijuana businesses to an overlay district with frontage on Route 27, Main Street and Franklin Street.
“The reason why we have two separate bylaws on this Town Meeting warrant is because there is some question as to whether or not a General Bylaw will serve to prohibit,” said Town Counsel Katherine Feodoroff on Oct. 1. “It’s potentially challengeable.”
She said her firm would do their best to protect the town if a challenge is received.
Opponents of retail cannabis shops cite the potential for adverse effects of marijuana use on teenagers.
“Dr. Ruth Potee, M.D., of Greenfield, recently told an audience in Shrewsbury that last year, for the first time, marijuana use among teens surpassed cigarette use. And that’s a problem because early exposure to cannabis, as with early exposure to other drugs, can harm the developing brain,” the Rev. Peter Smith, recently wrote, quoting a story in the Milford Daily News. Smith is a member of W-H WILL.
“Proponents of legalized marijuana may say that legalization does not extend to minors, but who are they kidding?” Smith stated. “The more it is available, the more its use will spread, and we will all be the poorer for that.”
While proponents countered at the Oct. 1 Town Meeting that putting “another liquor store on the corner it doesn’t make you an alcoholic,” others are not convinced by that argument.
“We need to realize that marijuana and alcohol are not the same thing nor do they affect the body in the same way,” stated Hanson resident Ken Duty of County Road, citing a recent fatal East Bridgewater crash in which the 18-year-old driver was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana — in a crash that killed four other teens. Duty asks what voters would say to the parents of those killed.
“Do you say I voted and welcomed Pot and Edibles to be sold in Hanson? Not me, I want deniability saying I voted to stop marijuana sales in Hanson,” he said.
Patrick Powers of Holmes Street reported, during the Town Meeting, that health department reports in Colorado and Washington both found that marijuana use actually decreased among youth in grades six through 12 after legalization as well as a 6.5 decrease in opioid overdose deaths. He also said children are not allowed in cannabis shops where customers must show ID to enter and wait in a waiting room before they are assisted by a certified employee who has passed background checks.
Joseph Campbell of Woodbine Avenue argued that Hanson would benefit from tax revenue on both the local and state level, noting that similar towns out west have benefits for land-locked towns with slowing growth.
“We have an opportunity knocking at our door,” Campbell said Oct. 1, noting individual moral decisions must take place in the home. “If you have a liquor store at the end of your street, is that going to make you an alcoholic? Probably not.”
He stressed that the Board of Selectmen will retain the right to grant or rescind licenses as well as bestowing the financial “gifts” of taxes from the businesses to public safety and school needs.
Topping the State Ballot is the race for U.S. Senator, with incumbent Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., facing state Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, and Independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai of Belmont.
Republican incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are being challenged by Democratic challengers Jay Gonzalez, a former Secretary of Administration and Finance under Deval Patrick, and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Quentin Palfrey who served in the White House under President Obama as a senior advisor for jobs and competitiveness, and as a deputy general counsel in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Incumbent Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican James R. McMahon III of Bourne.
Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Anthony M. Amore of Swampscott, and Green-Rainbow candidate Juan G. Sanchez Jr., of Holyoke.
Democratic state Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, the incumbent, is on the ballot with Republican candidate Keiko M. Orrall of Lakeville and Green-Rainbow candidate Jamie M. Guerin of Northampton.
For state Auditor, Democratic incumbent Suzanne M. Bump faces Republican Helen Brady of Concord, Libertarian Daniel Fishman of Beverly and Green-Rainbow candidate Edward J. Stamas of Northampton.
Both 8th District U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., and Governor’s Councillor Christopher A. Iannalla Jr., are unchallenged on the ballot, save for write-in candidate for Governor’s Councillor Erin Johnson. In the 9th congressional district, Hanson voters will see incumbent Bill Keating, D-Mass., is challenged by Republican Peter D. Tedeschi of Marshfield.
Incumbent state Sen. Michael D. Brady, D-Brockton, is being challenged by Republican Scott Hall of Brockton.
Brady is currently seeking re-election for his third term for the district, which represents Plympton, Halifax, Hanson, Whitman, Brockton, and parts of East Bridgewater and Easton. Prior to becoming a senator, he served four terms as State Representative in the Ninth Plymouth District.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Revenue where he has worked to provide funding for the district for education, public safety, infrastructure, seniors and veterans, according to a statement from Brady’s campaign.
“Senator Brady will continue to support and fund and protecting public education, incentives for renewable energy resources, opioid abuse prevention, helping veterans, the elderly, and increasing economic development,” his campaign stated. “He says that constituent services have always been his top priority and will continue to do so if re-elected.”
State Rep. races
Hanson state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury in the 6th Plymouth District, is unopposed for re-election.
In Whitman, seeking the seat vacated by Diehl in the 7th Plymouth District, candidates Alex Bezanson, a Democrat, and Alyson Sullivan, a Republican are on the ballot. Both are Abington residents in a district that includes all of Whitman and Abington and precincts 2, 3 and 4 in East Bridgewater.
Bezanson and Sullivan met in a WATD political forum broadcast on Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV on Monday, Oct. 8.
A Quincy native, Bezanson moved to Abington in 1987 and owns a contracting business. He has served on the Abington Conservation Commission, Water Commission and Board of Selectmen. He and his wife founded the HUG Foundation that aids families facing medical issues and the Abington Substance Awareness Coalition as a resource for families of addicts and to promote awareness of the problem for students and parents.
Sullivan, a lifelong resident of Abington, and a law student in her final year at the Suffolk University School of Law, has worked as a legal assistant in the U.S. Immigration Court before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Massachusetts District in its victim/witness unit. She is currently a legal assistant in the state’s Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
The WATD debate touched of issues of climate change and the need for renewable energy — which both supported, the importance of municipal experience in the State House; 40B affordable housing issues; business development and challenges to it, public transportation needs; ballot question 2 limiting corporate contributions to political campaigns — which Sullivan opposes as a free speech issue and Bezanson supports, but concedes is not germane to local races; use of state surplus and criminal justice reform.
The debate is posted on the WHCA-TV YouTube channel for streaming.
Incumbent DA Timothy Cruz, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat John E. Bradley Jr., of Plymouth.
Other unchallenged candidates on the ballot are: Democrat Robert S. Creedon Jr., for Plymouth County Clerk of Courts; Democrat John R. Buckley Jr., of Brockton for Register of Deeds and Republican Sandra M. Wright for County Commissioner.
Question 1, regarding whether or not limits should be placed on the number of patients that could be assigned to one registered nurse, has received the most attention.
A yes vote would place limits in, what proponents say is in the interest of quality care. A no vote makes no change to current laws to avoid what opponents of the question see as putting “patient care quality and safety at risk.”
Question 2 would create a citizens commission to promote an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting the influence of money in elections and reversing a Supreme Court ruling that corporations have the same rights as human beings.
A yes vote supports such an effort. A no vote would not create such a commission.
Question 3 adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort or amusement. A yes vote retains the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. A no vote would repeal that protection under the public accommodation law.