Secretary of State William Galvin is urging voters to show up for local elections Tuesday, as 58 communities across Massachusetts roll out the ballot boxes.
“These are the important races where you live. These are the important issues to determine what things will be like in your community. They shape the future of your community,” Galvin told reporters Monday. “We know statistically people are less likely to vote in these municipal elections, but I think it’s important to think about it.”
Though Galvin said he anticipates a “decent turnout,” some communities are more likely to have higher participation rates than others, including the 34 cities that will be electing a mayor. He pointed to the “active” mayoral races in Revere and Medford as well as the open seats Taunton and Melrose as examples of communities that could carry around 30% to 40%, which he said would be considered “exceptionally high,” for a municipal election.
“Some of them are very contested situations,” Galvin said. “A number of them have been in contact with our office over various issues that are out there.”
One of the “difficult” challenges Galvin anticipates in his supervising role over the Nov. 5 elections is the varying polling hours from one municipality to another. Galvin said he couldn’t make any turnout predictions because of that variability. He is, however, urging voters to visit his official website to find the relevant polling hours in their respective communities and where they need to go.
Top issues Galvin identified among communities include public safety, education, transportation and, “most notably this year,” zoning.
“As I’ve traveled the state over recent months, it seems when you speak to local officials or candidates running for local offices, almost invariably the first thing they talk about is development,” Galvin said.
In some cases, folks raised concerns about the lack of housing development, Galvin said, and in others about the nature of the development that’s underway and how it’s affecting their communities.
“I think it deserves mentioning that the issues local governments deal with are some of the most critical issues affecting citizens where they live,” Galvin said. “These are the people who have taken the time out of their lives to commit to public service on issues they genuinely care about, so I think they deserve to be rewarded by participation.”