By: Charlie Fiske
Tuesday’s primary election marked the start of a new chapter in Massachusetts politics. The three top state wide executive branch seats, 25 percent of the House seats and a handful of state Senate seats are about to be filled with new personalities. Many of the changes include longtime supporters of The Arc who have decided to either move up or leave government service all together. The strong legislative accomplishments The Arc achieved this past year were possible because of the dedicated commitment of many of these elected officials.
Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s primaries. And to those who didn’t win, but courageously entered the political arena, we thank you for your civic commitment! A special shout out to one of our colleagues, Barbara L’Italien, who won her primary for the Senate.
The general election slated for November 4th will determine the new occupant of the governor’s office as well as members for next year’s legislative session. The challenge will be to get new members up to speed on issues we will champion as well as to encourage the next governor to carry out this year’s new laws as well as address other concerns that deserve attention. If you haven’t registered to vote you can still do so through the October 15 deadline.
What remains of greater concern is the extremely low number of residents who showed to vote for the primary election. We put great expectations on our elected officials yet the confirmed ballots for the primaries represent a dismal turnout of 20 percent of voters. In addition an alarming number of members of the legislature didn’t face any opposition from within their own party or from member of other political parties. We should be able to expect that our elected members be responsive to our and constituents requests yet it is more alarming when their election is determined by so few voters.
The support for The Arc’s legislative issues remains strong among the remaining legislative members as well as leadership yet this no guarantee that incoming members are up to speed on many issues affecting the individuals and families we serve. Our task to reach out and educate elected officials never ends. The fruits of our recent success are tribute that fact.
The low voter turnout and the fact that many legislators faced no challenges is disturbing. Yet it is a glaring reminder of the work we need to with our own constituents in encouraging their participation to simply vote. At this point it’s too early to make predictions for the next legislative session yet we are optimistic that The Arc will continue to be a familiar partner with next year’s governor and legislative members.