By Till Kaeslin, Ellie French and Shannon Larson
Massachusetts residents on Tuesday voted on four tightly contested ballot questions; both Questions 1 and 2 were rejected and Questions 3 and 4 passed, while residents of the City of Boston voted to pass Question 5.
Massachusetts Ballot Question 2, which would lift the cap on charter schools approved in the commonwealth, was rejected by more than 60 percent of voters, according to the Associated Press.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who campaigned in favor of Question 2, responded to the decisive defeat of charter school expansion, saying he was proud of the campaign and his administration’s continuing dedication to public education.
“I am proud to have joined with thousands of parents, teachers and education reformers in a worthwhile campaign,” Baker said in a statement. “While Question 2 was not successful, the importance of that goal is unchanged.”
Tom Gosnell, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, celebrated the referendum result, and announced that the vote will help to ensure all students have access to the education and resources they need in order to thrive.
“Tonight it is time for us to celebrate the best public school system in the nation, one that we have spent hundreds of years building together,” Gosnell said in a release on Tuesday night. “Tonight we sent a loud and clear message — Massachusetts is the birthplace of public education and we will fight to defend it.”
Massachusetts Ballot Question 4 passed, with about 53 percent of voters casting their ballots to legalize recreational marijuana, according to the AP.
The measure will legalize the use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older, with the goal to “remove the production of marijuana from the illicit market … by providing for a regulated and taxed distribution system,” according to the initiative petition.
Jim Borghesani, the spokesperson for YES on 4, the pro-marijuana legalization organization, said he was satisfied with the results.
“We’re very pleased,” Borghesani said. “It was a very, very tough campaign, we had major opponents and they were able to raise a good amount of money, but the voters ultimately decided that prohibition is a thing that should be ended.”
Daniel Delaney, the chair of Safe Cannabis Massachusetts, a local grassroots organization that campaigned against Question 4, expressed disappointment with the results.
“It was a close decision, but clearly folks voted more on the concept of legalization over the actual language of the ballot initiative that was put in front of them,” Delaney said. “We’re going to acknowledge that some form of legalization is what the citizens want and we’re going to vote with the legislator to see if we can have it rolled out in a way that’s sensible and well-regulated for the commonwealth.”
Massachusetts Ballot Question 3 passed with more than three-fourths of voters choosing yes, according to the AP.
The ballot measure prohibits the sale of pork, veal and eggs produced from animals held in confined spaces that prevent them lying down, fully extending their limbs and moving about freely, according to the initiative petition.
Kimberly Barzola, a community organizer for Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, the coalition in favor of Question 3, said she was happy to see the legislation passed.
“We are just incredibly ecstatic about the results,” Barzola said. “It’s clear that Massachusetts voters have shown that they believed in this common sense measure … against the extreme confinement of farm animals.”
Diane Sullivan, the campaign manager for Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice, the group that lead the opposition to Question 3, was thankful to the organization’s supporters, despite the loss.
“I’m grateful to all of the Massachusetts voters who took the time to understand what some of the consequences will be of Question 3, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to represent the voice of those who would be victimized,” Sullivan said.
Question 5 on the Boston ballot passed, according to a statement released by supporters, which will raise some residents’ property taxes in Boston by 1 percent in order to improve the preservation of outdoor spaces and historical sites.
Under Question 5, otherwise known as the Community Preservation Act, property taxes increases would come into effect in 2018, with exemptions for low-income housing, low-and-moderate-income senior housing, and for the first $100,000 of taxable residential, commercial and industrial property, according to the question’s official summary.
Yes for a Better Boston, the coalition dedicated to supporting the CPA, said in a press release that they feel optimistic about the opportunities opened up by the passing of Question 5.
“We are thrilled that Boston voters have voted yes for this opportunity to fund affordable housing, parks and open space, and historic preservation for our City,” Yes Better Boston wrote in a release. “We look forward to the next steps in this process and making a renewed investment in our neighborhoods through the Community Preservation Act.”
Yes Better Boston intends to continue working with endorsers of the CPA in order to ensure equal allocation of the funds that will be raised by the CPA.
“This broad-based support was reflective of Boston’s make-up and geography, and it is our intent to stay together following this election to advocate for equitable distribution of these vital funds,” Yes Better Boston wrote in the release.
Massachusetts Ballot Question 1 was rejected, with about 60 percent of voters rejecting the referendum to issue an additional slot parlor license in the state, according to the AP.
If it had passed, the ballot measure would have allowed for a second slot parlor to open its doors in Massachusetts, according to the initiative petition.
Celeste Ribeiro Myers, the chair of the Committee for the Sustainable and Responsible Economic Development said she was “completely elated” about the results.
“I’m pretty happy that we were successful in launching our initiative to inform voters of what their vote means, and that we have the opportunity to defend the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from outsiders that came all the way across the globe to try to take advantage of our legislative process,” Myers said.
The Yes to 1 campaign was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.