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Retired US congressman endorses Jo Comerford for state senate

  • Retired U.S. Congressman John Olver endorsed Jo Comerford for state senate in Amherst. —Scott Merzbach



Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

AMHERST — Calling Jo Comerford the only State Senate candidate ready to do the work on the day she is elected, with extensive experience in building coalitions, retired U.S. Congressman John Olver is endorsing the Northampton resident for the position he once held.

“Jo has been working for two decades from the outside, but that has given her the knowledge and skills to bring about change from the inside,” said Olver, speaking in front of Amherst Town Hall Wednesday morning, where he was joined by Hampshire Register of Deeds Mary Olberding and longtime Amherst Democratic activist Alice Swift.

Olver cited Comerford’s previous experience as director of the American Friends Service Committee, director of programs for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, executive director of the National Priorities Project and campaign director for MoveOn.org.

“She has a wonderful combination of vision and listening skills, and the one theme that unites her work during the last 20 years, something that will be invaluable in the State Senate, is that Jo knows how to bring people together to make change,” Olver said.

Comerford is a Democratic write-in candidate for the 24-community Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District seat formerly held for 27 years by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg. Though only educator and women’s rights advocate Chelsea Kline of Northampton will be on the Sept. 4 primary ballot, Attorney David J. Murphy of Amherst, Northampton City Council President Ryan O’Donnell, Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services Director Steven Connor of Northampton and University of Massachusetts employee David Morin of Amherst are also running write-in campaigns.

Rosenberg, who succeeded Olver in the position after he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, resigned in May after the Senate Ethics Committee determined that he had failed to protect the Senate from the behavior of his now-estranged husband, Bryon Hefner.

“Now that Stan has resigned I want to make sure the people continue to be well represented,” Olver said. “And I see only one candidate who is up to that job.”

“I still live in the district and I still care deeply about who represents the 160,000 people in our district as our state senator,” Olver said.

Olberding kept her remarks brief, observing that she has temporarily lost her voice, but said that Comerford will make up for that.

“I know when I don’t have a voice, she will have a voice for me,” Olberding said.

Olberding has been a champion for women interested in politics. “It is not lost on me that she will be the first woman to represent this district,” Olberding said.

Comerford said she appreciated the latest endorsements, which join a growing number of officials supporting her campaign, including Nortwestern  District Attorney David Sullivan, Franklin County Register of Probate John Merrigan, Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan, Franklin County Register of Deeds Scott Cote and Franklin County Superior Court Clerk Sue Emond.

“It is unbelievably humbling to stand here with Congressman Olver, Register of Deeds Mary Olberding and Alice Swift,” Comerford said.

Comerford said Swift has been steadfast in her moral leadership on issues that matter, Olberding has been a remarkable advocate for women leaders and Olver distinguished himself with what she termed “unparralled leadership” and “courage, grit and tenacity.”

Comerford said she only got into the race after Rosenberg resigned, noting that she had too much respect for his career pursuing progressive policies to take out papers to challenge him. She gives Rosenberg particular praise for his stand on marriage equality that allowed her the opportunity to marry her spouse, Ann Hennessey.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.