MASSLIVE: Mindy Domb, Eric Nakajima vie for the 3rd Hampshire district
Two Amherst Democrats, Eric Nakajima and Mindy Domb, are competing in the 3rd Hampshire District primary election Tuesday.
The district includes Amherst, Granby and Pelham.
Whoever wins likely will be filling the shoes of state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who announced earlier this year he would not seek a second term. There are no Republican candidates for the seat.
Both Nakajima and Domb are progressives with similar views on issues, but the candidates differ slightly in experience. Domb's background is in activism and human services, while Nakajima has worked in public policy and government.
Domb is originally from New Jersey but has spent the last 20 years living in Amherst.
Her political experience lies largely in the campaign arena, having worked for both the local campaigns to re-elect U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and state Attorney General Maura Healey in 2014. Before coming to Massachusetts, Domb also worked for Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Weiss of New York.
Domb said her priorities include supporting full funding for public education from preschool through college graduation, "addressing income inequality, protecting the environment and responding to the disastrous effects of the climate crisis, supporting Medicare for All and implementing a universal public single payer system, defending reproductive rights and supporting immigrant rights, worker rights and LGBTQI rights."
She also said she wants to "make sure that Massachusetts proactively withholds support from the Trump Administration's mean-spirited and dangerous agenda."
Much of Domb's experience is also based in nonprofit work and local activism, with a focus in health and human services. Domb was the co-founder of the Berkshire AIDS Coalition, and has been executive director of the Amherst Survival Center since 2013. She has also served as the state Department of Public Health's regional coordinator for HIV testing, and started the state's first jail-based HIV education program in the Berkshire County House of Corrections.
"I have decades of experience working in the front lines of some of the most important issues of our time (HIV/AIDS, the opioid epidemic, income inequality)," Domb said. "This has shaped my understanding of the ways policies and programs impact individuals and communities. I have a track record of results in multiple arenas and a record of successful advocacy. My position on issues comes from working directly with people in need and listening to their concerns."
Domb has received the endorsements from Healey, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Goldstein-Rose and the district's previous representative, Ellen Story.
A Democrat since "he can remember," Nakajima grew up in the Amherst-Pelham area. His father left Japan shortly after the end of World War II to relocate to the U.S. Nakajima said he still enjoys Japanese culture, and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.
Nakajima served under former Gov. Deval Patrick, operating largely in the Executive Office of Housing and Development. Starting as a senior policy adviser in 2007, Nakajima went on to become an assistant secretary for innovation policy by the end of his tenure.
He described this work with the Patrick administration as having focused on "affordable housing, workforce housing, and community revitalization," with work being done in cities like Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield.
Nakajima also has a friendly history with local labor unions, having recently received the endorsement of the Massachusetts chapter of the AFL-CIO. Eric Tolman, president of the union group, said Nakajima has the "experience and passion to be a strong advocate for quality schools, affordable housing, and higher paying jobs."
Nakajima said he supports a living wage, paid leave, low-cost public transit and affordable housing.
The candidate has also emphasized his close relationship to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Having attended the school in the 1980s, he returned to participate in activist and leadership roles -- including acting as a UMass trustee and chairman of Student Advisory Council for the Board of Regents.