Among the few contested offices in the 19 September Democratic primary here out west is the eighth Governor’s Council seat, where Thomas Merrigan of Greenfield is challenging incumbent Peter Vickery of Amherst. I got a card from Merrigan in today’s mail, and Vickery has had signs up for a while. The Governor’s Council is an eight-person body that votes on judicial and other appointments — the eighth district is more or less the four western counties, and was held for many years by Shannon O’Brien’s dad.
Vickery emphasizes his ties to organized liberaldom and clean election-dom. He was born in Wales, educated at Oxford, moved here, got a BU law degree in 1998, and became a citizen in 2002. He’s currently chair of the Amherst Town Committee — I met him when he moderated the caucus last spring. Merrigan was a judge until 2002, and his card says that he wants to run for GC to fix a process that took three years to replace him as a judge. There’s also a third candidate, Rinaldo Del Gallo of Pittsfield, a colorful father’s rights activist, and the unopposed Republican is Michael Franco of Holyoke.
The lack of press coverage of this race is exemplified by the fact that the first hit on a google search for “peter vickery thomas merrigan” is a BMG comment by me. The Republican had a story in July that referred to Merrigan accusing Vickery of playing politics, blocking an appointment due to a political litmus test. Vickery’s original campaign in 2004 had a simple message — “Romney is going to appoint right-wing judges, and I will fight hard to block them”. Merrigan says on his card that he supports “judges who understand our communities, more judges of color, …, greater use of mediation, and Western Mass people to fill Western Mass judgeships and clerkships”.
I’m inclined to vote for my Amherst homeboy Vickery. Any comments? Peter raised a conflict of interest issue with Vickery earlier…