At City Hall
Last night as I was leaving Northampton's Haymarket Cafe I noticed that a crowd was forming at City Hall. Of course I had to go check it out, and it turned out that people were waiting for the results to come in from yesterday's primary. Among them was local multi-media figure Mary Serreze.
I was surprised by the old fashioned manner in which they tallied the votes. The numbers were actually written on the wall by hand by the election workers as they came in, which is odd for a computerized voting system like they have in Northampton. It forced everyone to just sort of stand around waiting for one precinct after another to be posted. Among the news gatherers was Kelsey Flynn and Jaz Tupelo of WHMP.
As the results came in it quickly became apparent that this would not be a good night for incumbent Mayor M. Clare Higgins. Just as the votes showed her losing to challenger Michael Bardsley, the challenger himself walked into City Hall. The media pounced on him like birds of prey.
The Bardsley victory surprised most observers. While it was thought that Bardsley might make a strong challenge, no one expected him to actually win the primary outright. Of course the vote that counts will be in November, when the turnout may be double or more what it was in the primary. Since no one can be sure how that added electorate will cast their votes, no one is ruling out the possibility of a Higgins comeback in six weeks.
Yet there's no denying that Bardsley got a big dose of new credibility from yesterday results, which will translate into both money and momentum he would not have otherwise had. At the same time Higgins may also get a boost from complacent supporters who did little for her yesterday, but who may be galvanized into action now that they see that their beloved Clare is in danger.
I voted for Higgins so I was disappointed that she came in second, but only mildly so. The truth is I don't really care that much who is Northampton's next mayor. Both Higgins and Bardsley are Democrats supportive of a big and powerful government, so as someone partial to a government that is small and weak I have little expectation that either of them will inact many policies I'll applaud.
But I never waste my time worrying about Northampton politics anyway, since culturally the city is just too independent, rebellious and just plain anarchistic to be much influenced by any politician. The one exception was the night hometown boy Calvin Coolidge ascended to the presidency, when historians tell us the citizens of Northampton got wasted in downtown bars, played musical instruments and danced laughing and singing down Main Street.
They still do that today, but not for any particular reason.
In Springfield I was pleased to see that most of the candidates I endorsed will be going on to the November ballot. I don't flatter myself by claiming to have had any influence on their victories. If I do in fact influence any fence-sitters into supporting my candidates, they are probably more than cancelled by the votes of those who feel that if a candidate is someone I would support, then there must be something wrong with them.
In any case, the biggest race in the Valley this year is not the Higgins/Bardsley match-up but the Dominic Sarno - Bud Williams slugfest in Springfield, so there remains much to be entertained by this election season.
The Gathering Storm
People have been sending me pictures from the massive demonstration in Washington D.C. last week. Here are some I like:
Weird shit going down in Greenfield Massachusetts.