Few local contests on county ballots

Most Franklin County voters can devote the lion’s share of their Election Day attention Tuesday to the highly charged and close contests for president and U.S. senator, since there are few other races on the ballot — and three binding ballot questions, along with a non-binding referendum on to reverse the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Even though the county is being split into two congressional districts for the first time, the sole local contest is in a three-way race in the 2nd Franklin House District affecting six county towns.

State and local officials estimate about an 80 percent turnout at the polls — which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., largely driven by what’s expected to be very close races at the top of the ballot.

For president, voters will have a choice between incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, as well as Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson — whose name will be listed first on the alphabetically arranged ballot.

For U.S. Senate, freshman Republican incumbent Scott P. Brown faces a strong challenge from Democrat Elizabeth A. Warren.

In the reconfigured 2nd Franklin District, which no longer includes Greenfield, freshman incumbent Democrat Denise Andrews of Orange faces challengers Republican Susannah Whipps Lee of Athol and independent candidate Richard F. Schober, Jr. of Templeton. The new district also includes Gill, Erving, Warwick, Wendell and New Salem, as well as Athol, and four neighboring Worcester County communities together with part of Belchertown.

The only other contest on the ballot will be a race for Governor’s Council, to fill one of eight seats being left vacant by Thomas T. Merrigan of Greenfield. Former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano and Michael Franco, a Holyoke Republican trying for a fourth time to win a seat on the council that advises the governor on judicial appointments, are running for the two-year post in the district, which represents the four western counties.

Three binding ballot questions will also appear on the ballot.

Question 1 asks voters whether to allow auto manufacturers that sell cars in Massachusetts to provide access to their diagnostic and repair information system through a universal software system that can be accessed by dealers and independent repairs shops will also appear on the ballot.

Question 2 would provide “aid in dying,” which would allow adult Massachusetts residents who have been given a prognosis of six months or less to live to obtain drugs that would end their lives.

Question 3 would legalize medical marijuana through a regulated system of drug dispensaries and patient identification cards

A fourth question would instruct both state senators representing Franklin County to vote in favor of a resolution calling on Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and that both Congress and the states may limit political contributions and political spending. The question, which appears as No. 4 in all towns other than Bernardston, appears on six senatorial districts across the state by citizens’ petitions.

In Bernardston, voters will also be asked for two Proposition 2½ debt exclusion questions, one for money for a Highway Department truck and the other for the roof at Bernardston Elementary School.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the name of John W. Olver, the Amherst Democrat who has represented all of Franklin County since 1991, will not appear on the election ballot, since Olver will retire when he completes his term at the end of next month.

Instead, voters in Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Rowe and Shelburne will see Rep. Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Springfield, who has served the Second Congressional District since 1989, on their ballots. The name of James P. McGovern of Worcester, who has served in Congress since 1997, will appear on ballots in Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell and Whately.e_SPgBVoters will also see the name of John P. Paciorek of Deerfield, who is running for the Executive Board the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, on which he’s served for 10 years as an appointed member. The 69-year-old former Deerfield selectman, is seeking to fill the four-year executive committee post held by Ann Banash of Gill, who is not seeking re-election after serving for 12 years

Also running unopposed will be:

State Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittfield, in Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, Rowe and Shelburne.

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, in Bernardston, Colrain, Deeerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell, Whately.

State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, in Bernardston, Charlemont, Colrain, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Northfield, Rowe.

State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington in Ashfield, Buckland, Conway, Deeerfield, Leverett, Montague, Shelburne, Sunderland Shutesbury, Whately.

Susan Emond of Bernardston, Democrat, for Franklin County Clerk of Courts to fill the position being left by retiring Clerk Eve Blakeslee.

Scott A. Cote of Greenfield, Democrat, for Franklin County Register of Deeds.

You can reach Richie Davis at rdavis@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 269

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