When it comes to election season, it’s often hard to look beyond the Presidential election. This is of course understandable, as the country is looking to choose the next leader of the free world. However, state and local elections can often be just as important, and in fact have more of an impact on our daily lives. Last night, in addition to our next President, Massachusetts voters learned the results of four ballot questions and a number of state and local races.
Of the four questions on the state ballot this year, two of them passed and two decidedly failed. Question 1 would have allowed a real estate developer to build a second slots parlor and hotel on a tract of land in Revere. Although some saw this as an opportunity for job growth and economic incentives, more saw this as a greedy move that would only benefit a select few. Some were disappointed that the entire state was being allowed to decide something that would really only effect Revere, and in the end the question suffered a commanding loss.
Question 2 also failed after a long, statewide debate about charter schools. The question would have allowed for an increase in charter school enrollment, either creating new charter schools or allowing for greater enrollment in currently existing ones. Many feel that charter schools are the answer to our nation’s struggling public schools. However, others worried that charter schools would cause our public schools to suffer even more, and would not be helpful for students with disabilities. With opposition from public school teachers and unions, as well as many public school parents, the question lost decisively last night.
On the other hand, two questions won big last night. Question 3 focused on space requirements for caged livestock, and will only have a major effect on one chicken farm in Wendell. The farm currently houses 5,000 chickens in conditions that the owners consider humane, but with the question being voted yes, they will have to refurbish their farm and build bigger cages, reducing their number of chickens to just 500. In addition, Massachusetts will ban the sale of food products from animals raised in conditions that do not fit the space requirements outlined on the ballot.
And finally, the question that everyone was talking about: question 4 won big after a rather close start to the night. This means that starting on December 15, marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. The sale and taxation of marijuana will become legal, as well as the possession of small amounts. It will also be legal to grow small amounts of marijuana in your home, and create a commission to oversee the new law.
In other election news, all 4 Democratic incumbents were re-elected to the United States House of Representatives. And while the country overall called for President Trump, Hillary Clinton won rather decisively among Massachusetts voters. Massachusetts is historically a deep blue state, and last night Clinton won over 60% of the vote, with Trump trailing at 34% and Libertarian Gary Johnson picking up about 4.5%. In a bit of local interest, Governor Charlie Baker decided to not vote for President at all. Although Baker is a Republican, he felt that Trump was temperamentally unfit to be President and that Clinton had a believability problem.
With the questions voted on and the election decided, it is now time for the state and the country at large to move forward.