|High Turnout in Berkshires Helps Elect New Slate of Officials|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff |
11:23PM / Tuesday, November 08, 2022
|Governor's Council candidate Tara Jacobs speaks at her election gathering. She's poised to be the first Berkshire County representative on the statewide advisory council. |
|Tara Jacobs tries a 360 degree photo booth at her party at at the American Legion in North Adams. The Governor's Council candidate was leading her Republican opponent by double-digits.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The county saw a big turnout on Tuesday as voters elected a new slate of state officials, including a new governor in Maura Healey.
More locally, Democrats Paul Mark was elected to the state Senate and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli to another term in the State House in the new 3rd District. North Adams' own Tara Jacobs was on track to be the first Berkshire resident elected to the Governor's Council.
Jacobs had won a nail-biting primary against three Springfield-area attorneys that wasn't decided until the day after the election. On Tuesday night, she wasn't quite ready to claim victory but the numbers were definitely swinging in her direction with nearly 64 percent of the vote with a third of the nearly 100 towns in the 8th District reporting in.
"We will officially, officially announce with the numbers get to the point where there's no turning the tide," said Jacobs at her election night gathering at the American Legion. "But it's looking amazing right now — I heard in Northampton we got 90 percent."
Her campaign team said the numbers were coming in for 71 percent in Berkshire County and 68 percent in Springfield against Jacob's Republican opponent John Comerford.
Both Mark and Jacobs are filling vacant seats after former state Sen. Adams Hinds and Councilor Mary Hurley of Springfield declined to seek re-election. Mark bested Republican Brendan Phair of Pittsfield and Pignatelli the Green-Rainbow Party challenger Michael Lavery of Becket.
All other Berkshire County state office incumbents were unopposed.
Election officials posited that the ballot questions and chance to vote for a new governor drove up turnout in some communities to close to double September's primary when there were two hotly contested county races on the ballot.
Healey was projected the winner in the governor's race minutes after the polls closed. She had been leading Republican opponent Geoffrey Diehl by double digits for weeks.
The two-term attorney general becomes the first woman elected governor in Massachusetts and first openly gay person. She will take office with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll as lieutenant governor.
On track to victory were Democrats Andrea Campbell for attorney general and Diane DiZoglio for auditor, and incumbents Deborah Goldberg for treasurer and William Galvin for secretary of state. Democrat Richard Neal was leading his Republican challenger Dean Martilli by more than 20 points.
As of 11 p.m., all four of the ballot questions were leading, although only Question 3 on dental insurance seemed to be a sure win.
Numbers reported in Adams, Lanesborough, North Adams, Pittsfield and Williamstown had Question 1, the so-called Fair Share Amendment, winning by 10,000. Question 4, on repealing a law prohibiting undocumented residents from getting drivers' licenses, was winning by more than 6,000 votes.
"It has to do with the work of all of you, that got this message out," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier at Mark's gathering in Pittsfield. "Neighbors used social media and really just made the logical argument about why Question 4 makes sense. I can't thank you enough for we will be keeping an eye on the rest of the state of these questions."
Pittsfield had a turnout of 46 percent and Clarksburg saw 55 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
"We were talking about and I think it's the ballot questions. I really do," said Town Clerk Marilyn Gomeau, who also joked it could be because of the new electronic voting machine that went into service that day.
A few people were disappointed not to have the old wooden box with its bell, and there were a few spoiled ballots because voters weren't used to filling in ovals instead of making a check, but otherwise everything went smoothly, she said.
"It's amazing. I said, I can't believe it. I love it when we hit high numbers," Gomeau said.
Both Adams and Dalton also reported high numbers. Dalton Town Clerk Heather Hunt described it as "an overwhelming response, especially for a midterm ... it has not stopped, been going and going and going."
She, too, thought it might be the four questions as well as the nice weather fueling the turnout.
In North Adams, the city was also seeing good numbers and a steady turnout. City Clerk Joshua Vallieres said about 2,000 of the more than 9,000 voters had cast ballots early or by mail.
"So I wasn't expecting a whole lot of people today. I'm very surprised by this," he said. "It's not really any contested races necessarily, you know, but I wonder if it's the questions and just the general national atmosphere has anything to do with it."