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1st Franklin candidates in agreement over many topics



For the Gazette
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

SHELBURNE FALLS — The eight Democrats running for the 1st Franklin District Statehouse seat spent most of the time at a candidates forum Tuesday agreeing with each other.

The candidates — Kate Albright-Hanna of Huntington, Andrew Baker of Shelburne, Natalie Blais of Sunderland, Christine Doktor of Cummington, Jonathan Edwards of Whately, Casey Pease of Worthington, Nathaniel Waring of Sunderland and Francia Wisnewski of Montague — expressed similar, if not always the same, positions on many of the questions that were asked in the two-hour session at Mohawk Trail Regional High School. The forum was sponsored by the Shelburne and Buckland Democratic committees.

All eight will compete in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary. There is no Republican running for the position, which represents eight Hampshire County towns as well as 10 in Franklin County and one in Hampden County.

The forum included questions written at the door by many of the roughly 80 people who attended. Topics covered a range of issues from charter schools and rural transportation to single-payer health care legislation.

To several of the yes-or-no questions, candidates expressed unanimity. They shared support for “death with dignity legislation” and for carbon pricing to deal with climate change. On others, there was near unanimity except for one or two responses. One question was: “Would you protect our forests from aggressive biofuel logging and instead value the forests for carbon sequestration, clean water, sustainable forestry management?”

“I’ll pass on that one,” said Baker, despite all of the “yes” responses that had gone before. “It’s too compound a question.”

On Thursday, the Leverett Alliance will host a 7 p.m. forum at Leverett Elementary School on 85 Montague Road. Following introductions by each of the candidates, they will meet with small groups of representatives to hear what issues are of concern.

The district includes Ashfield, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland and Whately in Franklin County.