Andrew Baker becomes eighth challenger in race for 1st Franklin seat


For the Gazette
Published: 3/23/2018 9:49:47 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — Shelburne Selectman Andrew Baker on Friday became the eighth candidate to seek the First Franklin District state representative’s seat being vacated by Stephen Kulik.

Baker, who is running as a Democrat, works as a special projects coordinator for the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, doing job placement coaching for the Manufacturing Skills Initiative it coordinates with Greenfield Community College, Franklin County Technical School and area manufacturers.

“To strengthen our rural towns we need to keep and attract more young families, young farmers and entrepreneurs,” said Baker in a press statement. “We need to create vibrant and caring communities for our rapidly growing population of elders. I want to offer the voters an opportunity to elect a state representative who brings town government and hands-on community development experience to those projects.”

Baker has worked on workforce training projects for seven years at GCC and the regional employment board, working on training programs for medical assistants and green energy jobs, as well as precision machinists. He has more than 25 years of experience managing community development projects and was the first executive director of Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association from 1995 to 2002, followed by four years heading Hilltown Community Development Corporation beginning in 2006.

“I’ve been honored to work with people on community projects in most of the 19 towns in the First Franklin District,” said Baker, who ran an unsuccessful state House race against Republican Shaun Kelly in 2000, when Shelburne was part of the Second Berkshire District. He also attempted a second bid for the seat in 2002 but withdrew.

The First Franklin District, in which 25-year veteran legislator Kulik has announced he will not seek re-election, includes the Hampshire County towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Williamsburg, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield and Worthington, and the Franklin County towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, Shelburne, Sunderland, Shutesbury and Whately.

Baker has served in Shelburne government for 15 years, chairing the Cultural Council for six years and representing the town for six years on the Mohawk Trail Regional School Committee.

During his current three-year Select Board term, he helped launch a “solarize” program with Conway and Colrain, which helped 70 households install nearly 500 kilowatts of solar electricity, while also helping Shelburne get a Green Communities grant.

“We can do a lot to make our communities greener and more resilient with local effort and the right blend of public and private investments,” said Baker.

A 26-year resident of Shelburne Falls, Baker in 1995 founded Pothole Pictures, a volunteer-run community movie theater in the town hall, where he still makes popcorn. He also serves on the boards of the Western Mass. Green Consortium and of the tri-state Ecovation Hub green business development project.

Baler describes himself as a community organizer in both my professional life and volunteer work.

“Finding the resources to help our volunteer-run towns and our schools create both affordable and excellent public education is a key to the future of our small towns and will be my priority as a legislator,” he said. “With local effort and some strategic public investments, each new generation can keep revitalizing our communities and making them great places to raise families.”


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