Lowell Round-Up is a new column in which Mimi Parseghian shares her observations on the week in Lowell politics. In the future, this column will appear on Friday mornings.
There seems to be a lack of general interest in the three major contested elections this fall. Quite often candidates in mid-term elections, which include not only the Congressional ones, but also the elections for the State Legislature, ran unopposed. This year we have a contested Congressional race, a contested State Senate race and a contested State Representative race for the 18th Middlesex District, Lowell’s Acre and Highland neighborhoods.
The problem may be that there are so many Lowellians running in these three races and that supporters and political activists are dispersed. Also, if you have two people who you have previously supported running against each other, what do you?
We are approaching the end of May, so that leaves one month of strong campaigning before the summer lull. There will be a resurge of campaigning at the end of July due to the crowds that the Folk Festival draws. Since Primary elections are on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the day after Labor Day, candidates are going to have a very short time to distinguish themselves from their opponents. Needless to say, the candidates with a strong, established political base have the edge.
I know that the Final Elections are in November but I am making the assumption that the Democratic nominee in all of these races will have a distinct advantage.
Tuesday night’s Environment & Flood Issues Sub-Committee Meeting has created much discussion on social media. In case you missed it, the Subcommittee was meeting to hear from National Grid about their expansion or modernization of the gas lines. Like many other such meetings, opponents were in attendance; unlike other such meetings, these opponents prevented the agenda from going forward.
I wished that National Grid was allowed to make its presentation so that we can begin to be informed as to what is going to happen. Also, the discussion would have allowed the City Council to express their concerns, if there were any, and perhaps make an impact on the direction this project is going to take.
Although I respect the right for civil disobedience, I do wonder how effective this demonstration was. I always thought that the goal of political activism is to influence the ultimate decision and not the activity itself.
Changes in City Manager always bring a new style of administering. That is obvious if you watch the City Council meeting. Unlike his predecessors, former City Manager Kevin Murphy had his Department Managers present at the City Council meeting if an agenda item pertained to their department. If there were any questions on an agenda item, they were available to answer. City Manager Eileen Donoghue has improved on that approach. She invites the Department Managers to verbally recap their written responses to the Councilors’ motions and then the floor is opened for questions. This format educates the viewer and gives background information to the discussion.
This week’s marks the two-year anniversary of the Lowell City Council vote supporting a bill that “prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity” (the transgender rights bill). Now that a referendum to repeal this bill will be on the ballot this fall, it may be a good time for the City of Lowell to reaffirm its anti-discrimination position.