Rosenberg shares ideas in re-election bid against South Hadley challenger

  • Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, smiles during an interview at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Tuesday.

  • Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst speaks at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in October. He is running for re-election against South Hadley resident Donald B. Peltier. gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/3/2016 11:03:03 PM

Voters in 24 communities that make up the Hampshire-Franklin state senate district will decide Nov. 8 whether to re-elect Amherst Democratic State Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a state senator since 1991, or send South Hadley Republican Donald B. Peltier, a newcomer to state politics, to Boston.

While it’s certain that this is a matchup of a longtime politician who serves in a leadership role and a candidate who is running for elective office in the state for the first time, it’s less known how credible a candidate Peltier is.

Even though Peltier obtained the required 300 signatures to get his name on the ballot alongside Rosenberg’s, efforts to reach Peltier by phone and email in recent weeks have been unsuccessful, and a man who answered the door at Peltier’s Granby Road home advised a reporter to leave the premise.

Rosenberg also has a decided advantage in raising money for his campaign, with a current war chest of $389,532. He spent $52,246 between Aug. 22 and Oct. 21, compared to the $1,000 that Peltier has in his account, which he provided on his own. Peltier spent just $161 in the same timeframe.

In a recent phone interview, Rosenberg, 65, said he is grateful to the voters for the opportunity to continue to serve residents in Hampshire County, including Amherst, Hadley, Northampton and South Hadley, along with people in towns in Franklin and Worcester counties, that are part of the district.

“I will continue to focus on the main interests of the district, which revolve around education, the environment, social services, fair taxes and social and economic justice,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said he intends to push for more public funding for education from preschool through college, as well as money for transportation needs.

“Additional investment is needed in those areas,” Rosenberg said. “We need general recognition that there are investments that need to be maintained and increased.”

Adaptation and resiliency are important for dealing with climate change, Rosenberg said, adding that his energy policy includes support for green energy, such as solar, wind and hydro, and promoting energy efficiency.

“Massachusetts is exposed to a significant amount of risk as a coastal state,” Rosenberg said, “If we don’t adopt serious planning and resiliency, then we’re going to wake up to find ourselves in a situation similar to New York and New Jersey did when Irene froze their economy for literally weeks.”

Social justice is another theme of Rosenberg’s re-election campaign.

“We’re continuing to grow the economy that allows low- and moderate-income people to be able to sustain themselves and their families without turning to the government for subsidies for food, housing and health care,” Rosenberg said.

Narrowing the achievement gap in public education, ensuring those who participate in higher education accurately represent the diversity of the state and building wealth for people of all racial backgrounds are other goals.

Rosenberg said he is pleased that an infrastructure for combating the opioid crisis is now in place, though he knows it will take a while to see results. State revenues remain soft and Rosenberg said his worried about cuts Gov. Charlie Baker may make without legislative input. Still, local aid to cities and towns will not be cut, and grant programs that relate to small bridges and downtown revitalization are also protected.

Whether the current tax system is good for a 21st century economy is something Rosenberg is pondering. He said he supports a differentiated tax rate for those earning over $1 million, a question that will be on the ballot in 2018 that allows all income above that amount to be taxed at 4 percent above the base income tax, with all additional revenues to transportation and education.

As leader of the senate, Rosenberg said he has worked to modernize the way it operates, and hopes more senators are engaged and playing a role in setting the agenda, as well as creating more transparency for the public.

While he feels it was a productive term, he would like to see bills come more gradually, and earlier in the session.

“The challenge I see is so much of the legislation got done so late in the session that the public didn’t get a chance to understand what we were doing,” Rosenberg said.

One of the reasons he speculates that he is facing a challenge is an electorate cynical of politicians. “The answer to cynicism to it is giving access to sunshine,” osenberg said.

Peltier not talking

At Peltier’s Granby Road home, lawn signs supporting Republican Donald Trump for president are displayed.

When a reporter rang the doorbell, a man answered, holding back a dog, and twice said “reporters on sidewalk,” and then proceeded to ask if the reporter knew how to use a phone to communicate and the state laws related to trespassing.

These remarks were reminiscent of 2012, when Peltier called for police help when national investigative reporter Brian Ross and a cameraman arrived in town from ABC News.

They were looking into allegations that Peltier had created websites that appeared to be for the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and was soliciting money through them. The websites are still active and their legality still remains a question.

Peltier, 54, appears to be running for elective office for the first time.

His campaign website appears to be donald2016.org, possibly bringing in people browsing the internet searching for Trump. The website provides a boiler plate of talking points and policies that are traditionally Republican or conservative, including support for cutting taxes, protecting the Second Amendment and promoting school choice.

A statement posted on the website describes Peltier as growing up in South Hadley, where he was instilled with his values. “I’ve been a conservative all my life. I consider myself an average citizen. I’m not going to give you a list of reasons why I think I’m better than you. because I’m not better than you, I’m one of you,” the statement reads. “I believe in a limited government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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




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