EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 2, 2012

Local ballot question urges support of progressive causes

LAWRENCE – About two-thirds of the city’s voters on Tuesday will be asked to rally behind a litany of leftist causes that includes raising taxes on the rich, cutting military spending, withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan “now” and preserving federal funding for “housing, food and unemployment insurance.”

The referendum instructs the winner of the 16th Essex House seat – contested by current incumbent Marcos Devers, and Jose Santiago, who held it several years ago – to vote for a resolution that would call on Congress and the next president to support the laundry list of progressive causes, which also includes ending offshore tax havens and opposing cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The question will appear on the ballot only in the 16th Essex District, unlike the three other ballot questions that will be put to voters statewide, which include proposals to legalize marijuana and assisted suicide.

The referendum was put on the ballot by several local activists who gathered the 250 signatures needed to put questions to voters, including former School Committee member Martina Cruz. It will appear as Question 4, below the statewide referendums.

Unlike the statewide referendums, Question 4 would not be binding and would have little effect. Devers or Santiago could ignore it. It also does not require either man to introduce a resolution in the statehouse calling on the president and Congress to preserve some programs and cut others, only asks that they support the resolution if it is introduced.

Were the statehouse to approve such a resolution, Congress and the next president could ignore it.

Cruz, Devers and Santiago could not be reached yesterday.

The 16th House District includes about two-thirds of Lawrence on both sides of the Merrimack River and is the only statehouse district wholly contained in the city.

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