Berkshire County was in agreement with the rest of the state this election, supporting Obama for president and Kerry for another term. It also rejected the controversial Question 1 and supported both a measure decriminalizing pot and one banning dog racing in the state. They also helped Olver to another term in the U.S. House.
Obama won walking away, 4,510 to McCain’s 1,202, in North Adams. Kerry, similarly, defeated challenger Jeff Beatty by 4,755 to 812. Olver was the victor over Bech, 4,872 to 873. Merrigan outpolled challenger Franke for the Governor’s council, 4,506 to 807.
On the questions:
Question 1: yes, 1084; no, 4,650
Question 2: Yes, 3,392; no, 2,364
Both Pittsfield and North Adams appear to be in line with statewide results. With nearly 60 percent of precincts reporting in, The Boston Globe says Question 1 has failed, again, to pass. Not so for Question 2 and Question 3 – both proposals are on track to pass.
That will mean being caught with less than an ounce of pot will mean a fine, not criminal charge. It also appears to mean the end of dog racing in the state of Massachusetts. Only two tracks were left, both in the east end of the state. The closest track to the Berkshires was Green Mountain Park, which closed more than two decades ago.
It also means the state budget is save, for now. Question 1 would have eliminated the state’s 5.3 percent income tax over two years, something local and state officials have consistently described as “devastating.” State officials say it would have reduced the budget by some $12.5 billion – slicing through educational, public safety and social service programs.
Opponents said state spending could do with some dieting and claimed the cuts were exaggerated and no services would be curtailed. But voters thought otherwise – possibly because of the obvious effects of Gov. Patrick’s $1 billion in cuts just a few weeks ago. A thousand jobs and hundreds of thousands in grants and funding was slashed, hitting local programs.
In Cheshire, which had impressive turnout nearing 80 percent, Obama won handily, although McCain had slightly stronger support than in other towns.
The Arizona senator captured 507 votes to Obama’s 1,304. Nader picked up 36. Voters also decisively defeated Question 1, 1,361 to 488.
Clarksburg also had turnout of 80 percent, the highest in recent memory according to poll worker Phil Fosser, who couldn’t remember the number of voters reaching 900 before. It was 902, to be exact, with a peaceful 20 minutes ending a day that began at 7 with a line at the door.
Obama won 632 votes to McCain’s 236. Kerry picked up a decisive win with 684 over Beatty’s 160 and Underhill’s 41. Olver won 705-166 against Bech.
Clarksburg also rejected Question 1 ( 763-133) and accepted Question 3 (492-386) but bucked the county trend to defeat Question 2 (452-422).
Towns throughout the county appeared to be following a trend: Obama, Kerry, Olver. Question 1 was a nonstarter and voters stood by their best friends by supporting Question 3. Question 2, despite opposition by leading law enforcement, health, religious and community leaders, also passed muster, especially in Great Barrington.
It was the scene of the notorious “Taconic 17” case, in which 17 teens and young adults were charged in trafficking and possession of pot as a the result of yearlong investigation that had some parents up in arms. Great Barrington passed the measure to decriminalize small amounts of the illegal drug 2,478 to 1,114.