Rosenberg resignation leaves Northampton, Hatfield without representation

  • Then-Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, fields a question during an interview at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, in August 2016.

  • The late Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton.

Published: 5/3/2018 6:57:24 PM

AMHERST — The jagged hole in western Massachusetts representation at the Statehouse left by the passing of Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, has grown larger with the announcement that Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, will resign Friday. 

Now, Northampton and Hatfield have no representation in the Legislature. And on Tuesday, the deadline to submit signatures to secure a place on the primary ballot passed, leaving Northampton Democrat Chelsea Kline as the only candidate for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Senate district. 

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz issued a statement Thursday evening urging an extension of the filing deadline 

“Unfortunately, this turn of events leaves the City of Northampton with no representation in the state Legislature until January 2019,” Narkewicz wrote.

“In addition, because the Ethics Committee report was issued the day after the statewide filing deadline there is no opportunity for a contested election for our now-vacant state Senate seat.”

Narkewicz is calling on the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and Senate president to work together to extend the filing deadline for the district for two more weeks “so that we can have a full and robust debate about the needs and future of its 24 cities and towns.”

Kocot, 61, died Feb. 22. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has the authority to schedule special House elections, opted against having one for Kocot’s First Hampshire District, which encompasses Northampton, Hatfield, Southampton, Westhampton and Montgomery. Hatfield is also in the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Senate district.

Rosenberg had gathered the requisite numbers of signatures to run for re-election, town clerks in Amherst and Northampton confirmed Thursday. 

The elections division of the secretary of the commonwealth said the deadline for collecting signatures and filing them with a local town clerk in the candidate’s district passed on May 1. Candidates now have until May 29 to submit the signatures for certification by the secretary of the commonwealth. 

Rosenberg has already filed his nomination papers with the required signatures to the town clerk in his district, according to the elections division, but has not submitted his papers to the secretary.

Unless he files his papers with the secretary, his name will not be on the ballot in September. Assuming Kline does, hers will be the only name on the ballot. 

Amherst and Northampton town clerks confirmed Thursday that both Rosenberg and Kline’s nomination papers had been certified with the required number of signatures. 

The elections division said a third candidate, David Morin of Amherst, had pulled papers to run for the seat, but town clerks in Amherst and Northampton said they did not show that he had certified his signatures for nomination, and the town clerk in Springfield, who has access to view statewide nominations, also said there was no record that Morin’s signatures have been submitted.

An aide in the Senate president’s office confirmed Thursday that Rosenberg had officially submitted his letter of resignation, which cannot be rescinded once it has been filed. 

Any decision on extending the filing deadline or holding a special election would be made by the Senate president’s office.

However, Kevin Connor, spokesman for Senate President Harriette Chandler, said that at this point the deadline will not be extended, nor will a special election be held for Rosenberg’s seat in the Senate. 

“When you make one exception for a political reason, you open up the possibilities of having deadline extensions or special elections whenever the political pressures of that time call for it,” Connor said.  

Narkewicz expressed disappointment at this turn of events, and he said that he would continue to reach out to legislators on this issue, particularly those in western Massachusetts.

“They understand how important this seat is,” he said.

Senate rule 5C states that a special election may be called up until April 1. As that deadline has passed, Connor said anyone else interested in running for Rosenberg’s seat  will need to run a write-in campaign. 

In a wri   te-in campaign, the candidate’s name does not appear on the ballot, but voters may write it in.

M.J. Tidwell can be reached at


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