Boston's Morning Newsletter
From tax hikes to pot shops, here's what's on the ballot in today's local elections in Mass.
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It’s voting day for several hundred thousand Massachusetts residents. Over a dozen towns are holding their annual springtime elections. But it’s not all select boards and sewer committees.
Thanks to our state’s love of special elections, Boston-area voters will pick two new members of the State House today, and several towns have impactful measures on the ballot. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Here’s a look into what’s being voted on:
In the South End: There may be two names on the ballot, but it’s a one-man race for Veterans’ Services Secretary Jon Santiago’s old 9th Suffolk district House seat. John Moran, a Biogen employee and housing advocate, is the only candidate still running, after his sole opponent in the Democratic primary dropped out (and endorsed him).
- Moran is also a virtual lock to win the May 30 general special election, since no Republicans qualified for the ballot.
In West Roxbury (and parts of Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Brookline): Three Democrats are running in the 10th Suffolk district primary, after former Rep. Ed Coppinger resigned to take a biotech lobbying gig. Your contenders: Bill MacGregor of West Roxbury, Robert Orthman of Roslindale and Celia Segel of Jamaica Plain.
- It’s a similar story here: No GOP candidate means whoever wins today can start planning their commute to the State House.
- Go deeper: The Boston Globe’s editorial board endorsed Orthman, but had complimentary things to say about the other two candidates. (Orthman and Segel have more left-leaning positions than MacGreger, who got Coppinger’s endorsement.)
In Brookline: Brooklinites have no shortage of names on the ballot today thanks to their 255-member Town Meeting, about a third of which is up for re-election. As StreetsBlog reports, it’s become a battle over housing issues that will shape Brookline’s approach to development. There are several ballot questions, too:
- Three of the questions propose increases to the town’s property taxes. Why? Brookline officials say the school district is facing a $3 million budget hole and needs help funding a big elementary school renovation. The town is also hoping to start a municipal compost collection program, among other infrastructure projects. (Residents can calculate the impact of the proposed tax hike here.)
- Another question proposes capping the number of marijuana dispensaries in Brookline at four. The town already has three and a fourth is in the pipeline. Supporters say that’s enough, though others have pushed for more since none of the town’s four licenses have been given to equity applicants. (The current cap is five.)
In Amherst: The city is also asking its residents to approve a hike on their property tax for a new “21st century” elementary school. Locals can estimate the impact of the increase here, which Amherst officials say would be $451 per year for the average single-family household.
In Danvers: Voters will decide if the North Shore town will join the state’s Community Preservation Act program, effectively raising property taxes by 1% to fund local parks and affordable housing.
In Shirley: The town will decide on a similar CPA ballot measure.
In Westford: Voters will decide on a property tax hike and whether Columbus Day should be replaced by Indigenous Peoples Day.
Now, stepping away from the ballot box:
Cambridge officials are formally launching their expanded income basic program, which will give low-income families with children monthly $500 payments for at least 18 months — no strings attached.
- WBUR’s Zeninjor Enwemeka reports the $22 million program is the first basic income initiative in the country that won’t use a lottery system. Rather, all eligible households — an estimated total of 2,000 — will be allowed to sign up.
- Save the date: Applications for the program open on June 1.
The MBTA is investigating another incident of debris falling from above at Harvard Station — this time hitting a rider. Officials say a woman was taken to the hospital yesterday afternoon with minor injuries after she was hit by a supporting bracket from a dislodged utility box that slid down a column on the southbound platform.
- The incident comes less than two months after a 20-pound ceiling panel fell and almost hit a woman on the exact same platform.
P.S.— Remember, tonight is the first of two complete closures of the northbound side of the I-93 Tip O’Neill Tunnel through Boston, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. So, best to avoid the area if you’re on the roads super late (or super early). Speaking from past experience, the detour is no fun.