Editorial: Elect Diana Szynal in 1st Hampshire District

  • Diana Szynal is a Democratic candidate for state representative in the 1st Hampshire District. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 8/29/2018 11:20:56 PM

Diana Szynal, who has 20 years of experience working in county, local and state government, is our choice in the Democratic primary for state representative from the 1st Hampshire District.

Szynal, 51, of Hatfield, and her opponent Lindsay Sabadosa, 37, of Northampton, are impressive candidates who offer detailed positions on the issues and generally share progressive values. We give Szynal the edge because of her experience at all levels of government and her 16 years of constituent service as the district director for Rep. Peter Kocot, of Northampton, who died in February.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary is likely to succeed Kocot because there is no declared opposition in the Nov. 6 final election. The district comprises Hatfield, Northampton, Southampton and Westhampton in Hampshire County and Montgomery in Hampden County.

“I know the district like the back of my hand, and I know the people and the communities,” Szynal says. “My strengths have always been constituent services and my grasp of municipal issues and procedures.”

Szynal’s familiarity with the legislative process and issues in the 1st District is especially important to provide continuity at a time when the region is losing an unprecedented amount of seniority in the Legislature. Former state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg resigned in May, and three members of the House who represent portions of Hampshire County are not seeking re-election — Solomon Goldstein-Rose of Amherst, Stephen Kulik of Worthington and John Scibak of South Hadley.

While Szynal and Sabadosa express similar views on most issues, they differ on their approach. Sabadosa describes herself as an agent of change in the Legislature, while Szynal casts herself as more pragmatic and emphasizes her ability to navigate the system.

Asked whether they would stand up to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Sabadosa replies, “If leadership is not willing to stand up for change, we need to change the leadership.” Szynal says, “I would if I needed to,” though she prefers collaboration because “I’ve had wonderful experiences with the speaker.”

Both candidates favor single-payer health care. The centerpiece of Sabadosa’s campaign is advocating for immediately adopting Medicare for All in Massachusetts. However, we prefer Szynal’s more deliberate approach — including the possibility of working with neighboring states. She says, “We need substantial study about how this really works, how it is implemented and funding sources … (to obtain) as much information as possible.”

Szynal has demonstrated the flexibility to reconsider her position after considering sides of an issue. She says when she first learned that the Northampton City Council was considering lowering the voting age to 16 in municipal elections, she opposed the idea. Szynal changed her mind after having conversations with other parents of children that age and recognizing “how bright and prepared they are.”

A native of Amherst who has lived in Hatfield since she was 13, Szynal in 1998 joined the Hampshire Council of Governments as its municipal specialist, working on regional solutions for problems shared by its member towns. When Kocot first ran for state representative in 2002, Szynal served as his campaign manager in Hatfield and when he won the seat, Kocot named her district director.

Also in 2002, Szynal was elected to the Hatfield Select Board and served two, three-year terms, including three years as chairwoman. While a Select Board member, she was named to the town’s finance, capital improvement and emergency planning committees. Szynal also was a member for two years of the Local Government Advisory Committee, which met monthly with the governor to discuss issues of importance to cities and towns.

Szynal’s local priorities include renovating the Holyoke Soldiers Home, especially to enlarge its dementia unit; constructing a centralized courthouse in Northampton; and seeking federal and state money for environmental cleanup of the former state Department of Public Works yard on Locust Street in Northampton so it can be reused.

We commend both Sabadosa and Szynal for their campaigns focused on the issues. Sabadosa has demonstrated the same passion and energy as a candidate that has fueled her work as an activist and community organizer, and we urge her to continue seeking opportunities for public service.

Szynal is the candidate best qualified to immediately make an impact as a knowledgeable and effective state representative, and we urge voters in the 1st Hampshire District to support her in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.




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