By Ellie French and Maria Noyen
BU News Service
BELMONT — Dozens of Belmont residents arrived at 7 a.m. to cast their vote Tuesday morning.
John Kolterman said he would have voted democratic regardless of whether Donald Trump was in office, but because of Trump’s presidency, he did so with more emphasis.
“I wanted a repudiation of Trump,” Kolterman said.
In the gubernatorial race, he voted for Jay Gonzalez, “partly because of the Trump repudiation and partly because [Baker] could have been stronger on environmental [issues].”
Many Belmont residents said though Trump’s presidency did not change how they voted, it did change the feeling around Election Day this year.
“It didn’t change any of the votes here in Massachusetts for me, but it made me feel like getting up at the crack of dawn,” said Francis Moore Lappé. “It changed the emotion about it.
“My energy in this campaign took me back home to Texas, where I worked in the Beto campaign and I have been making calls for restoring voting eligibility to felons in Florida. So, my political activism has been [focused] on these very emotional races.”
Joan Cavanaugh is typically an independent voter but today she voted democratic, “as a message to send against hate and everything else that [Trump’s] doing wrong.”
“I’m really worried about the country,” Cavanaugh said. “I even think Charlie Baker’s done a great job but I had to send a message. I wanted a straight democratic ticket to push against the terrible priorities that they have— the Republican Party— and I hope the Republican Party changes. I think we just have to send a message and get more of a balance in our government.”
Cavanaugh also voted yes on Question 4 to build a new high school in Belmont.
“Even though my kids are well out of college,” Cavanaugh said, “I just believe that we have to support education and it costs money, so that’s where I want to see my money going.”
Andrew Levin agreed, saying the new school is “desperately needed.”
“We’re going to pay a lot more if we vote no,” Levin said.
Levin emphatically voted for Jay Gonzalez for governor, saying Baker has not done nearly enough in his tenure.
“I don’t think Baker’s done enough with the possibilities he’s had in front of him,” Levin said. “I thought he was a spineless wimp, basically.”
He also voted yes on Question 3 about transgender bathroom rights.
“Knowing a number of transgender individuals I think protecting their rights is extremely important,” Levin said.
Jason Salgo said he voted no on Question 1 about nurse staffing.
“I just think there’s a bit of overreach in terms of the hospitals and doctors and nurses’ work if it were to go through,” Salgo said.
Bob Mountain said Donald Trump’s presidency made him do something that he has never done before— vote for a Democrat.
“[I was] motivated to vote democrat for the first time in my life,” Mountain said. “[I decided] early on in his presidency but it’s been building.”
He still voted for Charlie Baker, though, saying he liked what he has seen from the governor.
Chi-Ting Huang said that in this election, more than ever, she encouraged her friends and family to vote— and to vote democratic.
“I voted for Jay Gonzalez,” Huang said. “I think Charlie’s been doing an OK job, but I think we really need somebody more progressive, especially for Massachusetts. I think Charlie has been a little reticent to put as much into the public works as I’d like to see.”
Richard Rowe said he is a voter, so he would have come out to the polls no matter who was in office.
“But if there was any ever doubt, I would have made sure I voted this time,” Rowe said. “I voted for Jay [Gonzalez]. I think he would be a really good governor. I think Charlie is very good at making people feel happy.”
Rowe said Baker has not done what he told voters he would accomplish upon election.
“He has not pushed for the infrastructure in our roads, or our traffic problems. It’s terrible here in Belmont,” Rowe said. “He just sits there, he’s been passive. [Gonzalez] will get things done.”
And on Question 4, Rowe voted yes to build the new high school.
“We need to do an even better job at helping our kids learn what they need to know to cope with this very rapidly changing world,” Rowe said.
Lena Klein voted yes on Question 4 to build a new high school in Belmont. She had graduated from a high school with the same 7-12 model.
“I actually graduated from a school that was 7-12, so I felt that would be beneficial for Belmont students as well,” Klein said. “I had a great experience. I had a lot of exposure to the curriculum from high school and middle school.”
Klein declined to comment on who she voted for governor.
Klein voted no on Question 1. She does not think limiting the number of patients would be beneficial for hospitals.
“I didn’t want patients to be pushed into the ER’s or have hospitals potentially close because of the limit on patients,” she said.
On Question 3, Klein voted to support the current law that extends full civil rights protection to transgender people.
“I support transgenders,” Klein said. “I don’t believe there is harm in allowing someone who believes they are male or female to use whatever bathroom they prefer.”
Jona Marashi voted yes for the new high school: “I think we need a new school and I’ve seen all the videos. I think it’s necessary.”
“I’m not crazy about the 7-12 but I think it’s the best option for us,” she said. “I have a daughter in kindergarten so I’m not super happy about a 7th grader being in the same school as a senior in high school. But I think the way they’re describing it it’s going to be separate so I’m hoping for the best.”
Regarding Question 1, Marashi said: “I voted yes. I know there’s a lot of contradiction. I think it would be good to narrow down the number of patients. There’s been times where I’ve been in the hospital and I’ve been seen by different nurses and the wait time was long.”
Marashi voted yes on Question 3, saying the current law shouldn’t be changed.
Brian DeCristopher, who has three kids, voted yes on the new high school.
“We moved to Belmont in large part because of the education opportunities and the investment that the town has made historically on education,” he said. “We would like to see that continue and I personally felt that having a new high school was the best way to move in that direction.”
DeCristopher said he would have liked another approach from President Trump in influencing the elections.
“I would like to see things done a little bit different in our country,” he said. “At least in terms of the messaging, the direction we’re going and the divisiveness that we’re seeing across the country.”
DeChristopher said he voted for Governor Baker.
“I just feel like overall he’s done a really good job for the state,” DeChristopher said. “He seems to be well-respected nationally and my opinion represents the Commonwealth well.”
DeChristopher voted no on Question 1. “Largely because I feel like the hospital should be allowed to make these types of decisions and not be mandated by the government,” he said.
On Question 3, DeChristopher said: “I feel as though we should have these types of protections in the United States and people should be free to express themselves and identify as they feel they should.”
Blake Currier, a father of two, voted yes on the new high school.
“I voted yes because I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. I feel like the resources in Belmont are underequipped and I think Belmont has been going through a large population increase in the past couple of years,” he said.
“I think that if we don’t invest in our schools we’re going to not keep up with other towns in the area.”
Currier voted for Charlie Baker for governor.
“I think he is fiscally conservative and I like the direction in which the state is heading.”
Currier voted no on Question 1, saying the government should not play a role in healthcare.
On Question 3, Currier said: “I voted no because I don’t believe that there’s a huge issue and I don’t think that people should be treated differently.”