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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Milestone Vote for Massachusetts State House this Tuesday

Illistrations by Reggie Themistocle
Illistrations by Reggie Themistocle

Bay State voters prepare for a milestone this Tuesday, when they will either elect the first female or first African-American governor of Massachusetts. Having the first female or African-American elected into the statehouse has gained a great deal of attention for both Republican candidate Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and Democrat Deval Patrick, but how significant is it to the actual female and African-American voter?

Kieran Pearson, a member of the Black Community Center studying Spanish at UMass-Boston, feels that even though it would be great for Patrick to become the first governor to share in his African-American heritage, it has the potential to be a dubious achievement.

“It doesn’t mean anything if he doesn’t do something to better the African-American community,” said Pearson. “There are huge disparities between the African-Americans and whites in this society, so it’s not going to mean anything that he’s the first other than us being able to say, ‘Oh, there’s an African-American governor of Massachusetts.'”

But doubt towards politics is not limited to the Patrick campaign, and some female voters wonder how effective Healey will be towards women’s causes. “I don’t think her issues necessarily support women’s causes,” said UMB junior Rebecca. “It would be a milestone that she’s female, but not for the female cause.”

Shauna Manning, a UMB Women’s Studies alum, finds that Healey has hurt the women’s cause in how she has conducted her campaign. For instance, Manning finds Healey’s aggressive ad campaign against Patrick as “gossipy,” and thus she comes off like a woman who talks behind her competitor’s back. Also, Manning thinks that Healey’s “play-by-the-rules” etiquette in the campaign debates seemed to stereotype her as the sort who would not play aggressively enough on stage, something that her opponents gained a reputation for.

As of now, Kerry Healey and Deval Patrick are way ahead of Independent candidate Christy Mihos and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross in the polls. If Patrick, a lifelong Democrat from Milton, wins that would make him the first African-American governor in Massachusetts’ history, a fact that Pearson finds somewhat disconcerting.

“I think it’s personally sad that he’d be the first because African-Americans have been here in the Boston area for more than 400 years, and I think it’s sad that only now do we have a black governor. And it speaks to a larger issue of repression and oppression that exists here in America towards African-Americans, that we are just now having the first black governor of Massachusetts.”

Not only does the African-American history make Patrick’s potential success a non-issue for Pearson, but also it gets overshadowed out by sheer democratic numbers.

“It shouldn’t even really be an issue of achievement,” said Pearson. “If you look at the numbers of what percentage of the U.S. African-Americans make up, we should have 12% of whatever position, anywhere you look; corporate, government, wherever.”

A Healey win would mean the first officially elected woman governor in Massachusetts history, but not the first female Governor of Massachusetts. Jane Swift was appointed governor from 2001 until 2003, when she was ousted by fellow Republican Mitt Romney. Swift obtained the position handed down to her by Paul Celucci, who served as acting governor when William Weld resigned from the position.

No matter who wins the governorship, some voters remain skeptical as to how successful either candidate will be in office. “Politics is interesting,” says Pearson. “You say one thing to get into office, and then do another thing. I guess it depends upon the individual, and their convictions. More than likely, he’s probably not going to do much, and the status-quo will remain.”

However, some people are not completely skeptical of their candidate’s platform, and even Pearson feels that “one of Deval Patrick’s things is that he would push some legislation to make sure that people can buy homes here in the Boston area.” But still, many do remain skeptical.

“Decreasing gang violence…what does Kerry Healey know about gang violence, asks Rebecca? “But still, I think it’s great that either way there will be a minority in the position.”