1st Franklin District: Wisnewski says everyone deserves to be represented at the tables of power

  • Francia Wisnewski

Staff Writer
Published: 8/27/2018 9:51:59 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Seven Democrats are vying in the Sept. 4 primary for the 1st Franklin District House seat being vacated by 25-year incumbent Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington. The seat serves residents in 19 towns, including Huntington, Chesterfield, Middlefield, Williamsburg, Worthington, Cummington, Goshen and Plainfield in Hampshire County. There is no Republican candidate. This is one in a series of profiles on the candidates.

Francia Wisnewski, a candidate for the 1st Franklin District House seat, is a Colombian-born senior program manager of the literacy program Raising a Reader Massachusetts, has been vice chairwoman of the Greenfield School Committee and currently serves as a Montague Town Meeting member. She is also on the boards of the Shea Theater and of Leadership Pioneer Valley.

She also chairs the Hampshire and Franklin Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, is a member of the Montague Democratic Committee and has participated in the Emerge Massachusetts program to inspire women to run for office.

The 41-year-old candidate, who moved to Franklin County 17 years ago, says she is running for the 1st Franklin District House seat “because I have seen and experienced the struggles of working families first-hand,” having worked as a staff member of the food pantry and the WIC Program, as well as having been a participant of both programs.

“I am a unique candidate,” she said. “I have worked for 17 years all over Franklin and Hampshire counties in education, social justice and community development.”

With education degrees from Colombia and the University of Massachusetts, she says, “I am lucky that I have been able to get good jobs and settle down to raise my family in Franklin County. But over the past several decades in the U.S., many people have not been so fortunate. We have seen an economy that has left many working people and families behind. … We struggle to find good jobs, to afford health care and get a good education. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck. We need a government that understands the challenges people face across the commonwealth, and works for us to address these issues.”

Wisnewski says that as a legislator, her priorities would include moving the state to fully fund public education, promote local economic development, including broadband and transportation, adopt a single-payer health care system and address climate change.

She calls single-payer insurance “an absolutely necessary step forward to bring health care costs down and ensure coverage for all residents,” and she supports a proposed three-year study of health-care costs “so that we understand what the real financial issues are and how to address them.”

“What sets me apart is my history of working for the policies I will champion,” Wisnewski said in written statement. “I am the only candidate in this race with … a clear track record of strengthening public education; advocating for single-payer health care; standing with workers, women, and marginalized groups fighting for their rights; supporting small businesses (including my family’s own business); and protecting local food and ecological systems. My priorities are clear: I have always worked for working families in our communities, not the people at the top.”

Among her stated priorities are building our economy by making sure Massachusetts is a leader in green and renewable technologies and infrastructure, supporting our farmers and local food systems, providing universal pre-K along with expanded state support to make day care affordable for all families; ensuring the affordability of community colleges, vocational training programs, and public universities for all state residents and funding addiction prevention and recovery programs that are accessible for rural areas.

Wisnewski wrote to voters recently that she believes “that representation really matters, and that it’s important to demonstrate that people like me — women, people of color, immigrants, people who speak with an accent — also belong at the table and in the halls of power. I have worked for nearly two decades in western Massachusetts for education, equity, and well being for ALL people, and I know how to listen well and how to make my voice heard, even when it’s easier for some people to turn away.”

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