By Pamela Sari
Boston University News Service
In-person voting for the 2022 midterm election is underway in Massachusetts. Residents voting in the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain share their sentiments and hopes for election results.
Of particular importance this year are the four questions on the ballot.
Massachusetts Ballot Question 1, known as the Fair Share Amendment or Millionare’s Tax was a concern for Jamaica Plain residents Megan Mear and Don Stafford. The question proposes an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would add an additional 4% state income tax on a portion of annual taxable income that exceeds $1 million.
“Though I am retired and no longer in the highest earning bracket I think people should pay their fair share,” said Stafford. Mear, his wife, was concerned about how this could impact them when it came to their house.
“If we sell our house, then we have to pay higher taxes and that worries me because that is my one-time thing. I am not a millionaire but my house is worth money,” said Mear.
The couple shared the same sentiments on why it was important for them to cast their vote today.
“Republicans, and the fever, and the hatred,” said Mear. “I feel that I just have to say something about it and keep Democrats in office. I think there should be a balance of the voices. I am concerned because we live in Jamaica Plain, in Boston, and in Massachusetts which is typically Democratic, and I feel like I am naive that those people exist. I didn’t know they were this angry.”
“I echo my wife’s concern about the direction of the country,” said Stafford. “We seem to have an almost 50-50, very heavily weighted two sides with no common ground in the middle so we just want to make sure that we are properly represented.”
He said politics in the country have changed over the years. He recalled when President Nixon “graciously accepted defeat” and turned his attention to setting President John F. Kennedy in place and Al Gore who acquiesced because he decided it was better for the country.
“Now we have people who want to think our elections are rigged by foreign powers,” said Stafford.
Question 1 was also top of mind for residents Amy Hoffman and Roberta Stone, as was Question 4, which asks voters to decide if all Massachusetts residents, regardless of legal status, should have access to a driver’s license.
Hoffman’s concerns about reproductive rights and preserving democracy in the country are what encouraged her to vote today.
“We are happy to be able to vote for progressive candidates and proud to live in Massachusetts where people feel that equality is important,” said Hoffman’s wife Roberta Stone. Stone has a visual impairment that she said made it hard to see the ballot, but her wife and polling workers provided assistance that allowed her to vote today.
The couple is hopeful that Maura Healey will win the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts and that Sam Montaño will be their State Representative.
“We were very happy with the whole Democratic slate,” said Stone.
Other voters were motivated by particular candidates over ballot questions. Leo Eguchi and Sasha Callahan of Jamaica Plain are both musicians who said it was important for them to show support for Congressman Stephen Lynch today.
“During the pandemic, his office was really incredibly helpful when our whole field was disseminated and we were trying to navigate the services and things that were offered,” said Callahan. “There were weird loopholes that were challenging and his office was phenomenal in helping us. It was the only time we ever reached out to a Congressman and he and his office were really responsive and took us seriously. He definitely gets my loyalty for that. I really appreciate how he handled that.”
Eguchi and Callahan said it was their civic responsibility to vote for the midterms today and show support for candidates such as Maura Healey.
“The ballot measures are important,” said Callahan. “I always find them a little challenging because you say yes or no and the way they are written I wish was a little different. But, I think it is very important that we engage and everybody does their part. We cannot sit it out.”
For Sunil Harpalani of Jamaica Plain, voting was a matter of “Making sure I have a say in who our leaders are going to be. The down-ballot questions and referendum questions I wanted to have a say in, and just being a representative of Democracy.”
Harpalani continued, “Given the events on Jan. 6, I wanted to make sure that I am not complacent and come out and vote so I have a say and do not take things for granted.”