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2nd Franklin District candidates net more endorsements

Both party candidates in the Second Franklin District announced major endorsements on Wednesday.

Incumbent Rep. Denise Andrews announced that she had received the backing of Gov. Deval Patrick as well as outgoing Congressional members John W. Olver and James McGovern, while Republican challenger Susannah Whipps Lee won the backing of Quincy resident Les Gosule, supporter of the state’s “Melissa’s Law.” Andrews, an Orange Democrat, in her third year as chair of Patrick’s Advisory Council for Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, said Patrick “shares beliefs in faith, perseverance, the power of community and the imperative of idealism that everyone has something important to offer the world and the responsibility to do so. Governor Patrick is a personal role model of mine because he is a faith-centered leader with a laser focused approach to deliver improvement. ... He, also, practices fiscally sound management practices, addressing generational inequality and exclusion and calling us daily to become our better selves. His repeated modeling and challenging us to “pay it forward and to take responsibility to build from our strengths, to address our failures and to choose to have communities that are just, prosperous and vibrant for all inspires me to serve and to make a difference as a public servant in these turbulent and challenging times for our communities and country.” Andrews said she also takes pride winning the endorsement of the outgoing congressman from Amherst and McGovern, whose new congressional district encompasses Second Franklin.

Lee, meanwhile, held a press conference in Phillipston with Gosule, who led a 12-year campaign for the state to enact the state’s “three strikes” law named for his daughter, who was raped and murdered in 1999 by a habitual sex offender with 27 prior convictions.

The law, enacted in July, denying parole eligibility for third-time violent felons for certain crimes, was “supported by law enforcement, women’s groups, victims’ rights groups, and by most of the public,” Gosule said at Wednesday’s press conference, attended by five Republican legislators. He said that Andrews “sided with the criminals’ rights groups when she twice voted against Melissa’s Law — once last November, and again in July when she voted for an amendment to virtually gut the bill. It’s true that Andrews flip-flopped on the final roll call, perhaps to play both sides of the issue politically. But I can tell you that she was no friend of public safety throughout this whole process.” Gosule said that Andrews was “completely at odds with her own party in her opposition,” and cited approval by Sens. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, and Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, as well as Reps. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, and Ellen Story, D-Amherst and other members of the western Massachusetts delegation.

“I applaud Susannah Whipps Lee for her support of Melissa’s Law and other common sense legislation to protect us from violent criminals,” he said. “Whether it is backing Melissa’s Bill, supporting Sheriff Lew Evangelidis in his quest to gain passage of Secure Communities, or her unflagging support of the Second Amendment and ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation, Susie Lee is a tireless supporter of the safety of our families.” Andrews was among 139 House members in July who voted for the measure, according to Beacon Hill Roll Call, although she later was among 23 House members who voted against a governor’s proposed amendment that would have given judges the option of allowing parole for habitual offenders after serving two-thirds of the maximum sentence, or after 25 years in the case of a life sentence.

Andrews was among 14 legislators voting against an earlier version of bill last November, saying that it included a litany of lesser crimes and allowed for no judicial discretion. “I didn’t think it was refined enough,” said Andrews, who voted for the bill’s passage after it was revised last July 18 as well for an amendment to allow some judicial discretion “upon a finding on the record of substantial and compelling reasons.” Andrews explained, “Myself, the governor, the chief justice and some other legislators felt we have three branches of government for a reason. I believe we should keep judicial discretion.” Attending the press conference Wednesday were Reps. George Peterson of Grafton), Bradford Hill of Ipswich, Richard Bastien of Gardner, Steven Levy of Marlboro, Todd Smola of Palmer and Donald Humason of Westfield).

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