Amherst’s Eric Nakajima to make second bid for 3rd Hampshire District seat 

  • Eric T. Nakajima, left, who ran for 3rd Hampshire District state representative in 2016, talks with a friend, Ted Chambers of Melrose, during a gathering at High Horse in Amherst on election night.  Gazette file photo

  • Eric T. Nakajima Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 22, 2018

AMHERST — Eric T. Nakajima, the runner-up in the Democratic primary election to succeed Ellen Story as the 3rd Hampshire District representative in 2016, will again campaign for the position.

Two days after state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose unenrolled from the Democratic Party, making him one of two independents in the state Legislature, Nakajima announced that he would make another go at trying to win the seat that represents all of Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby.

“I respect Solomon’s decision to leave the Democratic Party, but fundamentally I agree with Ellen Story that it won’t be helpful in serving the people and communities in the 3rd Hampshire District,” Nakajima said Thursday.

Reacting to Goldstein-Rose’s decision, Story said she believed it is a mistake and that the Democratic Party needs to grow stronger to confront Donald Trump in the White House and the Republican majorities in Congress.

Goldstein-Rose has said his decision is a way to accomplish bold initiatives, including on climate change, and work across party lines, and that good policy should not be defined by political party.

Nakajima, 51, is chairman of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee.

Previously, he was the director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and a leader of former governor Deval Patrick’s housing and economic development team. He is a 1985 graduate of Amherst Regional High School who grew up in Amherst.

Feedback from local Democrats gives him confidence that they want to have a Democrat on the November ballot.

“I had people reach out to me concerned about the representative’s decision,” Nakajima said.

Nakajima said he would stand up to the Trump administration’s assault on immigrants and the environment and to Republican tax breaks for the wealthy.

Nakajima said leaving the party, as Goldstein-Rose has done, doesn’t reflect an ability to combat reckless policies from the GOP.

“We need to stick together as Democrats and fight for our values and I plan to do just that,” Nakajima said. “Either you believe the party is broken or you believe in strong Democratic leadership that lives up to its ideals.”

Nakajima also cited his reasoning for running as the loss of influence in the local delegation occurring with the announced retirements of state Reps. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, and Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.

“We’re watching an erosion and loss of a lot of clout,” Nakajima said. “I think it’s now more important than ever we have effective representation, as well as representation that stands by our common values.”