Steven Connor of Northampton to run for 1st Hampshire District seat in House

  • Steven Connor, director of the Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, on Monday became the fourth candidate to join the race for the 1st Hampshire District in the Massachusetts House. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Published: 4/2/2018 10:18:20 AM

NORTHAMPTON — The director of the Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services on Monday became the fourth candidate to join the race for the 1st Hampshire District in the Massachusetts House.

Northampton’s Steven Connor is running as a Democrat for the seat held by the late Peter V. Kocot since 2002. Kocot died of cancer in February.

Connor said he wants to be an advocate for those who don’t have much of a voice on Beacon Hill.

“I decided to run for state representative to continue my longtime advocacy for veterans, children and people with disabilities,” Connor, 58, said in an email announcing his candidacy.

Connor joins three other candidates who want the job: Diana Szynal, 51, of Hatfield, who served as Kocot’s district director; Ryan O’Donnell, 38, of Northampton and president of the Northampton City Council; and Lindsay Sabadosa, 37, of Northampton, the director of the Pioneer Valley Women’s March. All four are running as Democrats. The Democratic primary will take place on Sept. 4.

The 1st Hampshire District consists of Northampton, Westhampton, Southampton and Hatfield in Hampshire County and Montgomery in Hampden County.

In an interview with the Gazette, Connor said he brings a knowledge of working with state institutions to the table. He also noted his history of working with a variety of populations, including veterans, the homeless, people with disabilities and those dealing with trauma.

“It’s taught me what their lives are like,” Connor said.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Connor attended Northampton High School and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Appointed Northampton’s veterans’ services officer in 2004, he now serves 11 total communities — 10 in Hampshire County and one in Hampden County — as the head of Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, a position he assumed in 2008. He has four children, and previously worked in the nonprofit sector.

Connor is a survivor of military sexual trauma, and he said that this experience has helped him to be empathetic to others who have experienced trauma.

“The homeless that I work with, so many of them have dealt with a trauma,” Connor said. “It allows me to be empathetic.”

Connor wants to make sure that everybody who needs health care gets it, and that he supports bringing a single-payer model to Massachusetts.

“It’s a huge challenge,” he said.

Alternative energy and reforming the state’s funding formula for public schools would be other priorities, he said.

“The city of Northampton gets hurt (by the current formula),” he said.

He also is supportive of the housing-first model for dealing with homelessness, which involves expanding both the affordable housing stock and linking people with support programs once they have housing.

Connor said that it is important for the area’s representative to remind those in state government that the district and western Massachusetts as a whole exists. He also pointed to the need for laws to be written in such a way that they help those they are supposed to help, and don’t create burdensome regulations.

Connor said that he will continue on in his current position during the campaign.

“I can’t just walk away,” he said.

And although he would leave his job if elected, Connor said that he would want to continue serving on local committees.

Connor said that he would like to see more people in public housing and with housing vouchers registered to vote.

“I’m going to stand up for them to do that,” he said.

He also said that homeless people had encouraged him to run for the seat, and that he would like to see more homeless people register to vote.

Connor said that he will launch his campaign kickoff sometime in April.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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