With town meeting season over, some Islanders gathered with state Sen. Dan Wolf Saturday morning to celebrate all six towns passing resolutions against the Supreme Court Citizens United case.
At a ceremony outside the West Tisbury library, Island selectmen and members of Occupy Martha’s Vineyard and the Martha’s Vineyard Committee to Overturn Citizens United thanked Mr. Wolf and state Rep. Tim Madden for supporting a bill in the state senate that would call on Congress to overturn the controversial court case, which allows for unlimited corporate donations in elections. An airplane delay left Mr. Madden stuck on Nantucket.
Mr. Wolf co-sponsored a bill in the state senate, S772, which calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn the case. During town meetings this spring, all six Island towns voted in favor of supporting the bill.
“The Martha’s Vineyard towns....all join with the now almost 50 other Massachusetts towns which have overwhelmingly passed similar resolutions in their town meetings,” Sarah Nevin, a member of the committee to overturn the case, said at the ceremony. “Thank you all for being with us here today as we recognize how voters’ actions can empower interactive decision making.
“Our goal, the restoration of free speech, and of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is bravely represented by Massachusetts Senate Bill 772,” she concluded.
Mr. Wolf told the group of about 30 people that the Citizens United case is interfering in the electoral process and noted the differences between his 24-year-old daughter and his corporation, Cape Air, which is also 24 years old.
Corporations exist to make money and enlarge shareholder profit, he said, and shouldn’t be granted the same rights as a human being.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“I’m really proud to represent this place,” he added, and all the Island towns supporting the bill allows him to have “that much stronger voice in the Senate.”
“I’m here because I think Citizens United is a real threat to an open, informed Democratic process,” Mr. Wolf told the Gazette before the ceremony,
During the ceremony, Antigone Rosenkranz held a sign thanking Mr. Wolf and Mr. Madden and noting that all six Island towns supported the senate bill. “Get big money out of politics,” the sign read.
Attendee Robert Knight of West Tisbury said he was “one of many people who share the feeling that Citizens United is just a terrible thing for the country.”
Before the ceremony, MV Dems met at the Howes House, where they heard from Sam Sutter, who is running against Cong. William Keating in the Democratic primary for the 9th district house race, and Stephanie Houghton, the Cape and Islands coordinator for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. After the meeting, Ms. Houghton met with volunteers to organize phone banking for Ms. Warren, who is running against current Sen. Scott Brown.
Mr. Wolf also addressed the Democrats’ meeting, where he talked about Citizens United and other legislative issues. West Tisbury selectman Richard Knabel brought up a far more local point of contention—the Oak Bluffs roundabout, another issue that nearly all Island towns voted against this election season.
Mr. Wolf told the Gazette later that he anticipated more meetings about the issue in Boston as well as conversations between the Island community and the state Department of Transportation. He noted there is strong sentiment on both sides of the roundabout issue.
“I’m not a traffic engineer,” he said.
When it comes to the Citizens United resolution, some noted the novelty of having Island-wide agreement. “I’m delighted to be here to support something that all of the towns agree on,” Oak Bluffs selectman Kathy Burton said at the ceremony. “Hopefully this is a model for more.”