Blais: I’m ready to ‘show up’ for district

  • Results from the 1st Franklin House 2018 primary, which Natalie Blais of Sunderland won with 41.9 percent of the vote. recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Natalie Blais stands on the corner of Routes 116 and 47 in the center of Sunderland thanking motorists on Wednesday afternoon. September 5, 2018. Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Natalie Blais stands on the corner of Routes 116 and 47 in the center of Sunderland thanking motorists on Wednesday afternoon. September 5, 2018. Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Natalie Blais stands on the corner of Routes 116 and 47 in the center of Sunderland thanking motorists on Wednesday afternoon. September 5, 2018. Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Natalie Blais stands on the corner of Routes 116 and 47 in the center of Sunderland thanking motorists on Wednesday afternoon. September 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/6/2018 12:30:54 AM

SUNDERLAND — About the time the clock struck midnight, the narrative began to change on primary night: final results were coming that would cement the outcome of the race for the 1st Franklin House seat on Beacon Hill.

At that point Natalie Blais had already sent away most of the people at her watch party, which she was hosting at her Sunderland home because nowhere else in town is open past 8:30 p.m. A few people had remained, including the retiring state representative she hoped to replace.

Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, had thrown in his endorsement behind Blais with a couple weeks to go before the Tuesday election. And there he was, in the home of Blais when definitive results came in that indicated the current executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce would go onto sweep away her six opponents and likely claim the seat in the November general election where she will have no Republican ballot opponent. Blais quickly turned to Kulik and his wife Suzanne.

“I just wanted to thank them for supporting me and for his service for 1st Franklin,” Blais said. 

Blais would go on to take 41.9 percent of the vote in the 19-town district, and 49.9 percent of the votes in the 10 Franklin County towns. That accounted for a total of 3,693 votes of the 8,819 total votes casted between the seven candidates.

“So many people came through in so many ways for me in this election that I never expected,” Blais said. “It was a very humbling to have people show up for me in that way.”

The next closest vote getter was Montague’s Francia Wisnewski with 1,478 votes, or 16.8 percent of the district’s vote. She was followed by Worthington’s 22-year-old Casey Pease with 1,296 votes, good for 14.7 percent of the total vote, and Cummington’s Christine Doktor with 1,119 votes, or 12.7 percent.

After that came Huntington’s Kate Albright-Hanna with 607 votes, 6.9 percent of the vote; Whately’s Jonathan Edwards with 542 votes, 6.1 percent; and Sunderland’s Nathaniel Waring with 84 votes, 1 percent.

Blais said that she learned while campaigning in the Hampshire County towns the concern of some residents, particularly those in Kulik’s Worthington.

“They had such access to Steve and they were very concerned about electing somebody from Franklin County,” she said. “I will show up on your doorsteps and in your driveways, and I learned from the best. Congressman John Olver, even when he had 107 communities, he showed up, and I plan on doing the same thing.”

Throughout primary day, town clerks were impressed with the turnout for a state midterm contest. Blais said the involvement in the political process has been strong over the course of the campaign, especially with the level of civil discourse over a range of hot-button issues among the candidates.

“We talked a lot about this throughout the entire race,” Blais said. “I think it was brought up in a number of different forums — that this is what democracy should look like.”

Circling back to a consistent message of hers, Blais said, “I think on a national level we’re seeing that having these difficult conversations is not happening. I’ve said this throughout the campaign, Massachusetts can lead the nation and we very clearly did this throughout the campaign.”

Although she carried less than half of the total vote, Blais said, “The fact of the matter is this is a district of 40,000 people,” and she plans on working to represent whole district. “I’ve learned over the years that projects and ideas won’t be successful if they’re coming from the top down,” Blais said.

Blais will likely become the state representative with a resume that includes working as a staffer for Olver and current Congressman Jim McGovern, as well as for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the current University of Massachusetts Amherst chancellor.

Currently the executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Blais said she hasn’t begun talks with the board about finding her replacement, but she made it clear that she cannot do both jobs. She will stay in the executive director position, which she began in June 2017, as she works “insuring a smooth transition.”

At the moment, Blais said she is focused on the November general election. “I still want to earn every single vote that I can,” she said.

In the most immediate future, the Sunderland resident can be found marching in the Franklin County Fair’s parade Thursday night.


Please support the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s COVID-19 coverage

Thank you for your support of the Gazette.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy