Tuesday’s election chock full of races, ballot questions


Hotly contested races for president and U.S. Senator along with various local races and a slew of intriguing ballot questions will all be up for grabs when Canton voters head to the polls on Election Day this coming Tuesday, November 6.

Friendly Rivals: Attorney Richard Staiti, chairman of the Canton Democratic Committee, with Selectman Bob Burr, chairman of the Canton Republican Committee

In the race for president of the United States, Democratic incumbent Barack Obama is the heavy favorite to pick up the state’s 11 electoral votes, although Republican challenger Mitt Romney does have strong Massachusetts ties, having served as the state’s governor from 2003 to 2007.

Other candidates for president include former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a physician, activist, and former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate.

A second high-profile race — and one that is being closely monitored around the country — pits incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Brown against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren for a seat that could sway the balance of power in the Senate.

Warren, a Harvard law professor and a liberal champion of Wall Street reform, held a five-point lead in the latest opinion polls over Brown, a political moderate who has touted his two-year record of bipartisanship since joining the Senate in 2010.

Observers have called the Brown-Warren race one of the most important of the election season, with the GOP poised to gain control of the Senate if Brown is able to fend off a suddenly surging Warren. A recent ABC News report described the Massachusetts race as an “epic battle” while adding that “no Senate race in the country has been more expensive and more personal.”

Meanwhile, in the other congressional race on the ballot, Democratic incumbent Stephen Lynch will seek his sixth full term as a U.S. representative — this time in the newly created eighth congressional district, which comprises Canton and surrounding towns in Norfolk County, as well as nine communities in Plymouth County, one in Bristol County, and parts of nine wards in the city of Boston.

Lynch’s challenger in the race is Republican nominee Joe Selvaggi, a Navy veteran of the Gulf War and owner of the local art chain Plaster Fun Time.

In addition to the three federal races, Tuesday’s ballot will also feature three state offices, although only one of them is being contested.

In the race for governor’s councilor in the second district, Democratic nominee Robert Jubinville of Milton will battle Republican Earl Sholley of Norfolk for a seat long held by Kelly Timilty, a former Canton resident who passed away in January at age 49.

The other two state candidates are longtime incumbents who are running unopposed: Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) in the Sixth Norfolk District and Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton) in the Norfolk, Plymouth & Bristol District.

In the Norfolk County races, all candidates are running unopposed, including Walter Timilty (Milton) for clerk of the courts, William O’Donnell (Norwood) for register of deeds, and John Gillis (Quincy) and Francis O’Brien (Dedham) for county commissioner.

The other races on the ballot are for positions on the Blue Hills Regional Vocational School District Committee. Kevin Connolly and Daniel Brent are vying for the Norwood seat, while all other candidates are running unopposed: Robert McNeil (Holbrook), Festus Joyce (Milton), Marybeth Nearen (Randolph), and Charles Flahive (Westwood).

Tuesday’s election will also feature three statewide ballot questions as well as one local question proposing adoption of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA).

Question 1 proposes passage of the “Right to Repair” law, which would require motor vehicle manufacturers to give owners and independent repair facilities access to the same diagnostic and repair information made available to the dealers and authorized repair facilities.

Supporters argue that the law will make it more convenient and less expensive for car owners to get repairs and will allow owners to decide for themselves where to have their vehicles repaired. Opponents argue that the measure would require the use of outdated technology, lead to higher sticker prices for vehicles, and make vehicle hacking easier, thus threatening safety and fuel efficiency innovation.

Question 2 proposes passage of the “Death with Dignity” law, which would allow physicians licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end his or her life.

Supporters point to the success of similar laws in Oregon and Washington while noting that patients should have the right to avoid physical suffering and end their life on their own terms. Opponents claim that the law would substitute quality health care for what amounts to state-sanctioned suicide. They argue that the proposal is poorly written and lacks public safety oversight once the drug is obtained.

Question 3 proposes enactment of a law allowing for the medical use of marijuana. The law would permit patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in certain hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.

Supporters claim the law will help to ease the suffering of thousands of people with debilitating conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma. They claim the medical use of marijuana would be strictly regulated and would lessen the need for dangerous narcotics such as morphine.

Opponents argue that the law contains various loopholes, including those that would allow virtually anyone to grow marijuana in his or her backyard and anyone age 21 and over to sell marijuana for any medical reason.

Question 4 proposes adoption of the CPA, which would allow the town of Canton to establish a dedicated funding source that would be used for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation. (Click here for related story)

In Canton, the funding would be generated through a 1 percent surcharge on the annual real estate tax levy, excluding the first $100,000 of taxable residential property and with exemptions for low-income housing and low- or moderate-income senior housing. The town would also be eligible for annual matching funds distributed through the statewide CPA trust.

A similar measure was rejected by voters in the last town election in April; however, supporters were able to get the question back on the ballot by way of a petition that contained the signatures of more than 5 percent of the town’s registered voters.

The polls at each of the four voting locations in Canton will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Those who will be out of town or will be unable to make it to the polls may request an absentee ballot from the town clerk’s office by calling 781-821-5013. Absentee ballots must be received at Town Hall by noon on November 5.

For polling locations by precinct or a precinct map, visit town.canton.ma.us/Clerks/Canton-precinct.pdf.

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