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Huntington journalist first to seek Kulik’s seat

  • Kate Albright-Hanna Submitted photo



@mjtidwell871 
Friday, February 23, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — An Emmy-award winning journalist who has recently made Huntington her home is making a bid for state representative in the 1st Franklin District.

Kate Albright-Hanna is the first person to file papers to run for the House seat currently held by Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, who recently announced that he would not seek re-election this year after serving since 1993.

“This is the year of regular people running for office,” Albright-Hanna told the Gazette Thursday. “It’s the year when regular people have to step up, and when, in particular, women have to step up.”

Albright-Hanna, who has reported for CNN, Vice and MSNBC, worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and a 2016 campaign to convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president. The Democrat also has launched a documentary film company and a company to hold politicians accountable.

The 1st Franklin District covers 19 towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties as well as the town of Chester in Hampden County.

“I want to build on the amazing foundation that he (Kulik) has created here,” Albright-Hanna said. “I really admire his support of green initiatives.”

She added that she wants to continue to advance legislation on issues such as public education, land management and agricultural practices, and building and supporting the local economy through small business.

Albright-Hanna said her combination of journalistic skills and experience as a political organizer make her a natural fit for the position. On a personal level, she said she brings together many different voices to pull out common themes that can move everyone forward.

She won Emmys for two post-9/11 CNN documentaries. Her political start came in 2007 when, at CNN, she produced a documentary about Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential election campaign. She was interested in Dean’s run, she said, because it was the first time the internet allowed a campaign to raise funds from many small donors, rivaling the power and influence that large campaign donors traditionally hold.

She wanted to produce a similar documentary about the Obama campaign.

The campaign gave her a no-go on the documentary, but instead extended a job offer to be the director of video and new media for Obama for America and the Obama-Biden transition into office. She accepted, saying she wanted to take a journalistic approach to the position and document a movement of people demanding change and bringing the Democratic party back to its progressive roots.

After working there until 2009 and producing over 2,000 videos, as well as a stint at the Department of Health and Human Services, Albright-Hanna said she felt that the Obama administration was changing.

“I felt like we were maybe losing sight of the original grassroots movement that had propelled us,” she said.

So, over the next few years she covered the rise of the Tea Party for Vice and the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement before working on two political talk shows for MSNBC. She then worked as a media manager for the New York gubernatorial and lieutenant-gubernatorial campaigns of Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu in 2014, before acting as deputy campaign manager for Ready For Warren, a campaign to encourage Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016.

She found time in between to launch Tarbell Industries in 2012, which is a documentary film company focused on how regular lives are affected by politics, and began working on Electifi in 2016, a tech company that allows citizens to flag issues with elected officials.

By 2016 she said she and her husband, Aaron Welch, and their three kids were ready to put down roots “in a real community,” so they moved to Huntington.

“We wanted a place that had family farms, thriving small businesses and a tradition of local democracy and we found it here in Huntington,” she said. “We bought a house and I joined the planning board, while my husband joined the school board. We love where we’re living and it just couldn’t be better.”

Albright-Hanna says the 19 cities and towns in the 1st Franklin District are holding caucuses, and she’s trying to go and meet as many people in the community as possible as she begins her run.

“I’m really encouraged that people seem to be getting involved in local government more than ever before,” she said. “People who had given up on politics are redoubling their efforts.”