New wave of lawmakers heading for Beacon Hill

By BERA DUNAU
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A whole new cohort of politicians will head off to Beacon Hill in January to represent residents in the upper Pioneer Valley.

Five newcomers from the area were elected to office on Election Day Tuesday. In the Massachusetts House of Representatives races, Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, was elected to the 1st Hampshire District; Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, was elected to the 2nd Hampshire District; and Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, was elected to the 3rd Hampshire District. Of the three, only Carey had an active opponent for the general election, in Republican Donald Peltier of South Hadley. Sabadosa and Domb ran unopposed, though the ballot in Domb’s race included unaffiliated Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who was not seeking re-election. State law prevented him from withdrawing his name because he withdrew too late.

Sabadosa, who received about 100 percent of the vote, is a translator and women’s rights advocate, while Carey is an assistant district attorney in the Northwestern district attorney’s office and Domb is the executive director of the Amherst Survival Center. All three candidates won heavily-contested Democratic primaries in September.

“We’ve all spent a lot of time talking about the federal level elections,” said Sabadosa, on election night. “But we have a lot of problems here in Massachusetts.”

Sabadosa noted how she’d talked to a homeless man she sees a lot downtown about how the woods flooded after he set up his tent, which he wasn’t able to get back to it.

“Those are problems in our state. Those are really big problems in our state,” she said. “That’s just one example of the many things we need to work on here.”

Sabadosa said that dealing with inequality in Massachusetts is why she ran for office. She also expressed outrage at the number of people who voted against Question 3, which sought to preserve anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in the state’s public accommodations law.

“I am completely on fire,” she said. “We’re gonna completely change how politics is done in Massachusetts.”

The 1st Hampshire District was left vacant by the February death of Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, while 2nd Hampshire District Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, is retiring.

Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, won the 1st Franklin District in an unopposed race. The district contains many Hampshire County communities. Blais, who is the executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, won a seven-way primary for the Democratic Party nomination in September. She will replace the seat’s longtime Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, who is retiring.

Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, also ran unopposed, in her race for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District in the Massachusetts state Senate, earning about 100 percent of the vote. Comerford, a former campaign director at MoveOn.org, emerged from a hard-fought Democratic primary fight, which she managed to win as a write-in candidate.

The seat was vacated by Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, after it was determined that he had failed to protect the Senate from the actions of his husband, Bryon Hefner, who is awaiting trial on several charges, including sexual assault.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Comerford, who has been involved in politics since she was a girl.

She said that she will use her knowledge to make government work for people.

“Now I get a chance to do that for the place that I love best,” said Comerford.

Both Sabadosa and Comerford attendad an election-night watching party at the World War II Club in Northampton, where people observed the battle of the U.S. House and Senate.  

Bill Scher, of Politico, was doing political analysis for the party.

“I think they have a shot,” joked Scher, in speaking of the chances of the unopposed Comerford and Sabadosa.

Despite a changing of the guard for many of the communities in Hampshire County, others saw their representatives unchanged.

Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, who represents many of the county’s hilltowns, was re-elected for a second time with 100 percent of the vote, running unopposed after easily defeating a primary challenge in September.

Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who represents Granby and Belchertown in the 1st Hampden and Hampshire District, also got 100 percent of the vote and was unopposed in the general election.

Sen. Donald Humans, R-Westfield, who represents Easthampton and Southampton, also won re-election with 100 percent of the vote against no challenger, earning a fourth term. He is the only Republican with a piece of Hampshire County in his district, the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District, in the state Senate. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, who represents part of Belchertown in the 7th Hampden District, was elected against no opposition, while 2nd Franklin District Rep. Susan Whipps, Unenrolled-Athol, who represents another part of Belchertown was elected against no opposition as well.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

https://www.gazettenet.com/Pioneer-Valley-s-delegation-sees-many-new-faces-elected-21244621