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Governor's Council candidates vying for western Massachusetts seat present different visions

From left John Comerford, of Palmer, and Tara Jacobs, of North Adams, are candidates for the western Massachusetts seat on the Governor's Council.
NEPM
From left John Comerford, of Palmer, and Tara Jacobs, of North Adams, are candidates for the western Massachusetts seat on the Governor's Council.

Two candidates running to represent western Massachusetts on the Governor's Council presented starkly different visions during a debate on Monday.

Democrat Tara Jacobs, a school committee member from North Adams, faced off against Republican John Comerford, a retired welfare fraud investigator from Palmer.

The council approves or rejects the governor's nominations for judges and parole board members.

As for who he'd like to see on the parole board, Comerford said, "I would look for somebody that's been involved with law enforcement in some capacity."

Jacobs had a different take.

"I am very interested in hopefully bringing more diversity to that board," she said. "I'd like to see more people of color and Spanish speaking but also [more diversity in terms of] background."

Jacobs said she'd also like to see more women and people of color on the bench. Comerford said he'd focus only on a candidate's credentials, not who they are.

Members of the Governor's Council also weigh in on pardons and commutations put forward by the governor.

Comerford said he doesn't believe in commutations, noting the potential impact on victims' families.

Jacobs disagreed. She called pardons and commutations "a symbol of hope and a reason to work towards rehabilitation."

The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Updated: October 25, 2022 at 5:45 AM EDT
This post has been updated to reflect more of the candidates' comments on pardons and commutations.
Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.