1st Franklin District House: Kate Albright-Hanna touts skills as organizer, muckraking journalist

  • Kate Albright-Hanna, candidate for 1st Franklin Seat, at Meet and Greet at First Congregational Church in Sunderland, April 13, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Desrochers

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2018 9:59:01 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Seven Democrats are vying in the Sept. 4 primary for the 1st Franklin District House seat being vacated by 25-year incumbent Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington. There is no Republican candidate. This is one in a series of profiles on those candidates.

Kate Albright-Hanna describes herself as “a muckraking journalist” who’s reported for CNN, Vice and MSNBC and also worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and a 2016 campaign to convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

A former New Yorker with a foreign-service bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, she moved to Huntington with her husband and two sons in 2016. Albright-Hanna, 42, says her combination of journalistic skills and experience as a political organizer make her a natural fit for the legislator’s post.

“I understand how to navigate the corridors of power,” she said at a recent candidates forum, “but I also, as somebody who’s had an award-winning journalism career, understand how to hold power accountable.”

Albright-Hanna, who won Emmys for two post-9/11 CNN documentaries, became director of video and new media for Obama for America and the Obama-Biden transition team, and also had a stint at the Department of Health and Human Services. She became deputy campaign manager for Ready For Warren, a campaign to encourage Warren to run for president in 2016.

Asked at a candidates forum earlier this month how she can represent rural issues after moving to the state from New York City two years ago, she said that after living there, as well as Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Dallas, she feels “incredibly fortunate” to have found “the most adorable picturesque place in the entire country, I think. I’m excited to live here.”

Albright-Hanna serves on the Huntington Planning Board.

She summarizes as her positions: “I’m a democratic socialist who supports single-payer health care, an end to charter schools, debt-free college, reversing climate change, closing the hedge-fund tax loophole for carried interest, and a Fair Share legislative amendment for a new millionaires’ tax. I will also work to make 100 percent regional school transportation reimbursement part of the foundation budget so that it’s not subject to appropriation, and to update the education funding formula so it reflects the true costs of public education.”

In 2012, Albright-Hanna launched Tarbell Industries, a documentary film company focused on how regular lives are affected by politics, and in 2016, began working on Electifi, a tech company that allows citizens to flag issues with elected officials. She is also a co-founder of ruralorganizing.org, a grassroots effort “to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving and equitable.”

At a recent forum, she said she is running “because as the existential threat to our future grows larger, our politics has become smaller. We’re still presented with a very narrow set of solutions because they’re designed to keep the status quo in place. The wealthy donors who fund our politicians make sure of that. … It’s time for us to launch a new progressive era, by going on the offensive, by grabbing the bully pulpit and making sure that our voices speak louder than money.”

Given the departure of several members of the region’s legislative delegation, she added, “We’ve got a rare opportunity right now. Western Massachusetts can elect a brand new set of bold progressives … with a single united delegation to fight for single-payer health care, for a fully-funded public education system and for a real plan to reverse the threat of climate change.”

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