Elizabeth Swihart leaves race for Kulik’s seat

  • Francia Wisnewski Contributed Photo

  • Elizabeth Swihart Kim Lindne/Time Bandit Photography

  • Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, pats Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura on the back after he delivers a keynote at the 49th annual GCC Foundation dinner. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

For the Gazette
Published: 4/10/2018 6:47:23 PM

Elizabeth Swihart of Turners Falls has dropped out of the 1st Franklin legislative race, throwing her support to fellow Democrat Francia Wisnewski of Montague.

Swihart was among several Democrats vying for the House seat being vacated after 25 years by Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington. Swihart’s withdrawal brings the total number of candidates to eight.

Swihart, an assistant district attorney, cited the challenge of trying to run a campaign while also being the mother of two young children.

“It’s impossible to run a campaign with two little kids,” Swihart said in her announcement last week withdrawing from the race. “Some of you will urge me to do it anyway, to be the change we so desperately need in politics. Something does need to change in order for women with young children to have a voice in the state government. My family has to come first, and so, at least this time, I will not be making that change. I look forward to engaging at the local level in such a way that my toddler and preschooler can tell me about their day each night before bed.

Swihart says Wisnewski is the right person for the job.

“She will listen. And then she will fight for your interests,” Swihart said. “As a small business owner who has given herself in service to the less advantaged for decades, she is qualified and experienced, and she has an authenticity and integrity that is second to none.”

Wisnewski said she looks forward to continuing to work with Swihart toward our shared goals.

Wisnewski, a mother of two sons and chairwoman of the Hampshire-Franklin Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, has worked with family support services in Western Mass. for nearly two decades.

She says she understands the toll multiple priorities take on women.

“I am very sympathetic to Elizabeth’s circumstances; this is why I am focused on increasing the services and support available to the working people of our communities,” she said in a statement. “And it is why I will be at the State House on May 16 to advocate for the Act Supporting Working Parents who Choose to Run for Public Office.”

Wisnewski added that 76 percent of all mothers and 95 percent of all fathers work full-time and rely on outside child care, noting that Massachusetts has the highest average cost of child care in the nation: more than $20,000 at an infant care center in Massachusetts, while the median income for single-parent households is $28,390.

“Potential candidates who are parents of young children and are less affluent are discouraged from running for office because of the costs of child care, leading to a candidate pool that does not adequately represent the people of the commonwealth,” Wisnewski said.

Aside from Wisnewski, the other 1st Franklin candidates for the Sept. 4 Democratic primary are: Kate Albright-Hanna of Huntington, Andrew Baker of Shelburne, Natalie Blais of Sunderland, Christine Doktor of Cummington, Jonathan Edwards of Whately, Casey Pease of Worthington and Nathaniel Waring of Sunderland.

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