Primary election Tuesday for special election to fill former state senator Knapik’s seat
Voters in Springfield have approved a casino agreement between city officials and MGM Resorts International.
David K. Bartley PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BARTLEY FOR SENATE.
Michael Franco. PHOTO COURTESY LINKEDIN
Donald F. Humason Jr. PHOTO COURTESY OF DONALD HUMASON JR.
With primary elections on the horizon Tuesday, the four candidates for 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District senator are campaigning hard to be their party’s candidate in the Nov. 5 special election to fill the seat.
Democratic voters will decide between Easthampton Mayor Michael A. Tautznik and Holyoke City Councilor David K. Bartley on Tuesday, and Republicans will cast votes for either Holyoke Veterans Services Officer Michael Franco or Westfield state Rep. Donald F. Humason Jr.
The candidates expressed concern about voter turnout being low because there is only one contest on the ballot and because of the rushed timeline to fill the seat Michael R. Knapik vacated Aug. 9.
“The biggest thing is to turn people out to vote,” Humason said last week. “I think people are a little sick of special elections.”
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Southampton voters will cast ballots at the Town Hall. Easthampton voters from districts 1, 2, and 5 will vote at White Brook Middle School and residents of districts 3 and 4 will vote at Easthampton High School.
Other communities in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District voting Tuesday are Westfield, Holyoke, Agawam, Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland and part of Chicopee.
Tautznik said he has seen a great response from voters as he has ventured into Hampden County communities that don’t know him as well as his hometown voters do. He has been mayor of Easthampton for 17 years and before that served on Easthampton’s former Select Board for seven years.
“The message that I have the experience and the ability to work well with all people, not just western Massachusetts people or Democrats, is resonating well with voters,” he said. He has reached voters at events and through phone calls.
Tautznik has also said that he will be a tough advocate for the district if elected and that he has learned fiscal responsibility in his 17 years of authoring Easthampton’s budget with limited revenue.
“People want to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” he said. “There are a lot of unenrolled voters in the district, and these are really the folks we’ve been trying to reach with this message. We’re saying, ‘You can support a Democrat and he won’t be the tax-spending candidate you expect.’ ”
Tautznik has received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, and state Reps. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, John Scibak, D-South Hadley, and Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.
Both Tautznik and Bartley said they are feeling confident about Tuesday’s primary.
“I feel like we have all the momentum. The campaign is just great,” Bartley said Friday.
“When there are two Democrats running against each other, you try to distinguish yourself,” he said. He said his campaign has called, mailed and visited voters and is also running television advertisements. “I’m telling people I’m a different kind of Democrat. I’m not a tax-and-spend Democrat.” He is opposed to the gas tax as it is written, he said, and against the reinstatement of tolls on the western stretch of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
He said his 17 years as a government auditor and his legal skills as an attorney will help him watch out for taxpayers and fight for their needs in Boston. He is in his first term as a city councilor.
“I want to bring back local aid to where it was in fiscal year 2009,” he said. “I think it’s better to bring the dollars back to the local communities — they know how to spend them better than Boston.”
His other priorities, if elected, are improving the local economy, increasing access to education, improving infrastructure and being responsive to constituents, he said.
Bartley said that he also received an unsolicited endorsement from Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe.
On the Republican side, Franco said it is not easy to challenge Humason in the primary because his opponent has been in the Statehouse for six terms. “We’re not the establishment candidate in this race. We’re the grassroots campaign,” he said.
A veterans’ claims investigator for Holyoke, Franco said he has been spreading the word that he is the candidate in the primary who more truly represents Republican values. He said that Humason is sometimes too willing to compromise and work with Democrats.
“In the party ranks, I’m known as an activist who is very loyal to my base,” he said.
At events or through mailings and phone calls, Franco said he has been telling voters that he is the candidate who will walk the party line, fight for responsible spending and work to repeal the gas tax.
Franco was in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for 23 years, retiring at the rank of major. He also earned a master’s degree in business administration in 1992 and worked in the private sector as a sales representative in the manufacturing industry and later as manager of a public affairs office. “I have a working man’s experience,” he said.
Humason touts his decade of experience as a state representative, saying that, in combination with his time as Knapik’s legislative aide from 1991 to 1998, has prepared him to hit the ground running if elected.
“I will be able to start representing the district the second I’m sworn in, or even sooner, as soon as I’m elected,” he said. “I’m well known in both branches, the House and Senate, and I can start representing the needs of the district immediately.”
In the House of Representatives, Humason is the ranking Republican on the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, a member of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and numerous other caucuses.
He said he has been campaigning mostly by meeting people around the district. “In my campaign and as state rep, my style is to be very hands-on and go to events where people are,” he said. “As a state rep, I make myself accessible to constituents, and I’m doing the same thing as a candidate.”
He said he feels confident about his chances Tuesday. “I’m getting that feeling from the campaign trail and from my gut,” he said.
After the polls close Tuesday, Humason said he and supporters will be listening for the election results at EB’s Restaurant in Agawam. Bartley will be at Pic’s Pub in Holyoke, Tautznik plans to be at the Brass Cat in Easthampton and Franco said he will have a private event with friends.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at email@example.com.