Amherst campaign notebook: Ex-Senate leader weighs in on Town Council race

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2021

AMHERST — Former State Senate president Stanley Rosenberg is making an endorsement in the race for a seat on the Town Council, giving his support, as a campaign adviser, to District 4 candidate Anika Lopes.

Lopes is running against incumbent Evan Ross and fellow challenger Pamela Rooney for the two district seats that are part of the 13-member council.

“As a seasoned community organizer and former elected official, I believe that Anika Lopes has what it takes to be effective in office,” Rosenberg, who lives in District 4, said in a statement. “She’s a good listener and knows the community.”

Lopes, who calls herself a sixth-generation African American and Native American resident, is focusing on issues that include housing availability and affordability, equity and inclusion, job opportunities that keep young professionals in town, and a thriving downtown.

She is also supporting renovation and expansion of the Jones Library, building a performance shell on the Town Common and enhancing housing opportunities for residents, including retirees like her mother.

Lopes has been endorsed by both of Amherst’s political action committees, the Progressive Coalition of Amherst and Amherst Forward. She sees overlap in their goals of attracting locally owned shops and restaurants to Amherst, fighting for social justice, increasing affordable housing and recruiting and enabling more people of color to serve on town boards and committees.

“I hope that my welcoming inclusion to achieve community progress will help heal divides,” Lopes said. “If I win a seat on the Town Council, I will bring creative and rational solutions to polarizing issues so people in our community experience equity and respect.”

Dual endorsements

Lopes is one of four candidates on the ballot who have received endorsements from both political action committees, though Ellisha Walker, who is running for an at-large seat on the council, is rejecting the support she received from Amherst Forward.

The others with dual endorsements are School Committee challenger Phoebe Merriam and School Committee incumbent Ben Herrington.

“I find myself in a position where I’m being endorsed by very different, very separate PACs,” Merriam said.

Merriam, a member of the Elementary School Building Committee, said she feels odd about Amherst Forward’s endorsement.

“I was surprised I was endorsed by them, though I did fill out the questionnaire on their website,” Merriam said, adding that she didn’t know there was a correlation between filling out the survey and receiving an endorsement.

She has written a letter to let Amherst Forward know about her worries.

“I was concerned that my beliefs and stances on some of the issues differ from Amherst Forward,” Merriam said.

Voter registration

The Board of Registrars is holding a voter registration session at the town clerk’s office at Town Hall on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The session marks the final opportunity to register to vote in the Nov. 2 town election.

In addition to new voters, any voters who have moved within town should document that with the town clerk to be able to vote.

People can also use mail-in registration forms that are available at Town Hall. They also can be downloaded from the secretary of state’s website at www.sec.state.ma.us.