The Massachusetts state primary is two weeks from today and Vineyard voters have some homework to do as they turn their attention to the race for Cape and Islands state representative. Longtime Rep. Eric T. Turkington is vacating the seat he has held for twenty years, and a crowded field of candidates is now jockeying for position in the November election. But first some sorting out will be done among the Democrats in the primary on Tuesday, September sixteenth. Five Democrats are in a primary runoff, three from the Vineyard, one from Nantucket and one from Falmouth. The three Vineyard candidates are Dan Larkosh, a West Tisbury attorney who has never held public office and ran unsuccessfully against Joseph E. Sollitto Jr. for clerk of courts last year; Tim Lasker, a Chilmark consultant who is a member of his town planning board; and Roger Wey, a longtime Oak Bluffs selectman and former county commissioner. On Nantucket Tim Madden, the well-known longtime legislative liaison, is running, although his name does not appear on the ballot and he is running on stickers. In Falmouth Dave Moriarty, a contractor who grew up in Falmouth, is also running.
There are also two independents who will appear on the November ballot: Melissa Freitag of Falmouth and Jacob Ferreira of Vineyard Haven. There are no Republicans in the race.
Because summer is so hectic, few Islanders pay much attention to politics until after Labor Day, and all the candidates have been ramping up their campaigns in the past few weeks.
And now it is time to pay attention, to listen to the candidates speak about the issues, from Cape Wind to the Steamship Authority, and to gauge their leadership abilities.
Sadly, the Cape and Islands have never had much clout on Beacon Hill, where the majority of lawmakers view the district as little more than a quaint playground for the rich and famous, conveniently overlooking the year-round, working-class population that earns thirty per cent less than average wage earners in the commonwealth and has a sixty per cent higher cost of living.
The Cape and Islands district needs a state representative who really understands the issues that are important to these working-class Islanders, who listens carefully to the constituents and understands the importance of protecting the fragile environment of the Cape and Islands, who avoids catering to special interests and who is willing to work hard to represent the district despite the historic lack of clout and a state legislature that is riddled with cronyism.
It won’t be an easy job, and voters have an important decision to make on September sixteenth.