Pittsfield paraeducator Brendan Phair seeks Senate seat 

  • BRENDAN PHAIR

Staff Writer
Published: 8/2/2022 5:17:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A paraeducator from Pittsfield is running for the Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire District in the state Senate as an unaffiliated candidate, and would look to ban most abortions and cut taxes if elected.

“I’m definitely conservative,” said Brendan Phair, 51. “No doubt.”

Phair works at Taconic High School in Pittsfield in special education. He is married with two children and has two adult stepchildren.

Phair has never been a member of either of the major political parties, stating that he’s “always been unenrolled.”

The Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire District stretches from the New York border to Whately. It is the successor district to the district represented by Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, who is not running for reelection and launched an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor.

The district includes the Hampshire County towns of Williamsburg, Westhampton, Goshen, Chesterfield, Huntington, Cummington, Worthington, Plainfield and Middlefield.

When asked why he’s running, Phair said he’s looking to reverse the trend of people leaving the state.

“We’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances leave,” said Phair, noting that they’ve moved to states that include Texas and Tennessee.

He also cited the passage of the ROE Act as another impetus for him running, as it further liberalized Massachusetts’ abortion laws.

“That was kind of like the push that really made me run,” he said.

Phair said that he is in favor of banning abortion with an exception for medical emergencies, as well as an exception for rape in the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. He said the rape exception would also apply to cases of incest where rape, including statutory rape, was involved.

He also said that while he would not support prosecuting women who have abortions, he would support prosecuting abortion providers.

In the absence of being able to pass such legislation, Phair said that he would support bills of smaller scope, such as banning the abortion of fetuses with Down syndrome and banning taxpayer funding for abortion.

“They would save lives,” Phair said, speaking of bills backed by Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

On other social issues, Phair opposes medical aid in dying, is against the death penalty and would not change the state’s laws on same-sex marriage or try to restrict contraception.

“I view physician-assisted suicide as simply a cost-saving measure for the state and for insurance companies,” Phair said. “It will hurt our must vulnerable and underprivileged people.”

On taxes, Phair supports a gas tax holiday and reducing the sales tax and the meals tax from 6.25% to 5%. He is also opposed to the Fair Share Amendment, expressing a worry that it would drive people out of the state and discourage people coming to Massachusetts. The initiative, which will be on the ballot in November, would impose a state surtax of 4% on the amount of household income over $1 million.

He also expressed concern that the measure could cause businesses to leave or not invest in themselves.

Another tax policy of Phair’s would be raising the state estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million.

“A lot of farmers expressed support for raising the threshold on the estate tax,” Phair said.

Phair supports firearms training for first time gun owners and also said that he supports legislation to prevent the government closure of gun stores in a natural disaster or pandemic.

“I think all businesses are essential,” he said.

Phair backs term limits, and would like to limit statewide office holders to eight total years in each office, such as governor. Similarly, he backs limiting service in the Legislature to 12 years in the House of Representatives and 12 years in the Senate. He said he hopes his support for term limits will cut across the ideological spectrum.

Another policy that Phair backs is dash and body cameras for police departments that want them, and the use of state funds for their initial purchase.

Phair said that his campaign has been going “not bad,” and that it’s done a good job getting yard signs out. He said he hasn’t yet campaigned in Hampshire County.

Phair will be on the general election ballot on Nov. 8, where he will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary — either state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, or town official Huff Templeton of Williamstown.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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