AMHERST - Mindy Domb, the executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, is poised to be the next state representative for the 3rd Hampshire District, defeating Eric Nakajima int he Democratic primary Tuesday.
In a decisive victory in which she earned more than 62 percent of the vote, Comb swept Amherst’s 10 precincts and also won Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby, according to unofficial results. Comb got 3,732 votes to Nakajima’s total of 2,238 across the district.
With no Republican or independent candidate running in November’s general election, Domb, 59, is set to success Solomon Goldstein-Rose, a one-term incumbent who opted not to seek re-election.
Celebrating at The Pub in downtown Amherst, Domb thanked her supporters as unofficial tallies were posted on a large white board.
“I feel like the results demonstrate that the district has a lot more in common than differences,” Domb said. “I am very, very gratified by the results.”
More importantly, Domb said, her supporters praised her campaign for countering fear and xenophobia coming from President Donald Trump’s White House.
“This campaign has made people hopeful about democracy,” Domb said.
Nakajima called Domb about 45 minutes after the polls closed conceding the race. That gave Domb a chance to address more than 100 people gathered.
“It’s a very small part for me, it’s a very large part for you,” Domb said of the win, as the crowd erupted in chants of “Mindy!”
“Everyone, I thank you so much,” Domb said.
Nakajima, who was at Rafter’s, complimented Domb.
“I think she ran a terrific campaign and I want to congratulate her on her victory,” Nakajima said. “I know she will serve Amherst well.”
Among those on hand for Domb’s victory were Hampshire County Register of Deeds Mary Olberding and retired state Rep. Ellen Story, of Amherst, as well as Goldstein-Rose, who threw his support behind Domb.
“I thought he would be fine. I thought she would be better,” Goldstein-Rose said.
Domb said she has plenty of time to get acquainted with the Legislature and will begin immediately, meeting with Goldstein-Rose and other legislators.
Sarah Barr, Domb’s campaign manager, said Domb’s style is to bring people together, which she exhibited at the Survival Center and in the campaign.
“I think the 3rd Hampshire District has elected an incredible and special advocate,” Barr said.
Alice Swift, an Amherst resident who served as part of Story’s kitchen cabinet, said Domb will be effective.
“She’ll be a great legislator, in the mold of Ellen Story,” Swift said.
Swift met Domb on the campaign to elect U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and found she had tremendous energy and the ability to work together with other people to accomplish what needs to be done.
“She deflects praise fro herself, and when she talks to people she makes them feel good,” Swift said.
Nakajima, chairman of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, said he is undecided on what the future holds for him.
“I love Amherst and I love the district and I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten,” Nakajima said.
Unlike two years ago, when Nakajima finished s the runner up to Goldstein-Rose, Nakajima said he felt he did everything he could to win, canvassing communities four times and personally knocking on over 1,000 doors in the last month to get campaign message out.
“We spent time in people’s living rooms and in their kitchens talking about their concerns,” Nakajima said.
Among those who worked on his behalf was Andrew “Bruce” McAmis of Northampton, a longtime friend.
“I know about his dedication to public service and interest in policy issues,” McAmis said.
Before coming to the Survival Center in 2013, Domb led two statewide programs for staff of drug and alcohol treatment programs, jails and homeless shelters around the issues of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and overdose prevention, and a training program on caring for LGBTQ youth. She was also co-founder of the Berkshire AIDS Coalition.
Domb also worked for Congressman Ted Weiss in Manhattan, managing his lower Manhattan district office, where she advocated for a federal response to the HIV epidemic at its beginning and preventing the federal government from stationing nuclear weapons in New York Harbor.
In 2010, she founded Make It Better Amherst, a social network of allies that started out of concern about the suicide epidemic in LGBTQ teens.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and women’s studies from Barnard College, and completed graduate work in adult learning and leadership from Teachers College in New York City.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org