The six candidates running in the Democratic primary election (September 8) to fill the seat of Representative Ellen Story have met in at least half a dozen forums since June to offer their views on a variety of subjects. Two more forums (at least!) are planned in the next few days: one sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Amherst on Thursday, August 25 at the Amherst Regional Middle School, 7-9 p.m., and another on climate change policy at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, 7-9 p.m. on Monday, August 29.
The League of Women Voters has positions on many of these subjects. For example, a two-year study evaluating public and private responsibilities for providing food, shelter and a basic income level culminated in a position on Meeting Basic Human Needs. This position includes support for government assistance in providing adequate food and shelter for all, as well as other programs and policies to prevent and reduce poverty.
The local forums have been well-attended, with standing-room only and overflow crowds in some cases. On July 14, 2016, the Town Room of Amherst Town Hall was packed to capacity for a forum on Homelessness organized by John Hornik, a member of the Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee. The event included an overview of services available to people who are homeless as well as four brain storming sessions in which participants were invited to address the issues and problems of being homeless in Amherst. Hornik later asked all six candidates running for the 3rd Hampshire District on the primary ballot to share their views on addressing homelessness. You can find the questions and answers here.
Following up on another packed forum, this one at the Amherst Survival Center on June 16, where questions were presented by a number of organizations, the Survival Center followed up with a series of four questions on poverty, food insecurity, and income inequality. The candidates’ answers are here.
In another set of races, four candidates (three Democrats and one Republican) are hoping to succeed retiring Hampshire Sheriff Robert Garvey. A pre-primary forum cosponsored by the Leagues of Women Voters of Amherst, Northampton and Springfield was held on August 16 in Northampton. You can learn about what the Massachusetts County Sheriffs do at the web site of the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition (while this Coalition definitely has a point of view, their site is nevertheless an excellent source of unbiased information), and in particular you can find the responses of the three Democratic candidates by scrolling down on that page to Hampshire County and clicking on each name. Additional details on the system in Hampshire County are available by clicking on the name of the county.