Endorsements on Parade: With Lesser, the Best of 3 Candidates…
After a raucous primary, numerous debates, all of the mailers and TV ads, the race to succeed Gale Candaras in the 1st Hampden & Hampshire senate seat has come down to this. The face-off among Democrat Eric Lesser, Republican Debra Boronski and Indepdent Mike Franco comes to a conclusion Tuesday and the choice voters make could well reverberate out for years to come.
Though both the House and the Senate deal with policy equally, being a smaller body, there is more opportunity for and more of an expectation that members of the Massachusetts Senate delve deeply into policy. Only somebody able to do that, while also balancing the other duties from the budget and constituent services, should hold this office. Only one candidate is qualified, battle-tested and educated on the issues. That candidate is Eric Lesser.
The 1st Hampden & Hampshire District consists of Belchertown, East Longmeadow, Granby, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Wilbraham and about a third of Chicopee and Springfield each. Check here to determine if your precinct in Chicopee or Springfield is in the district.
Boronski and Franco simply do not meet our test. Despite not residing in the district and holding some fringe beliefs, Franco has nevertheless offered an interesting flavor to the race. Of course, we cannot endorse him. Let’s set aside the numerous and many disagreements we have with him on, well almost everything. Whatever his background, our biggest concern is that Franco ran for another senate district only last year. It does not strike us as a natural fit for him. Add that to the ideological differences we simply cannot consider him seriously.
Boronski meanwhile, has run an incredibly ironic race. Self-styled the “qualified candidate” Boronski’s resume is a parade of embellishments, complicated by ethics reviews. She has tried to tout her business experience, but it is telling that nearly nobody of any renown at the Affiliated Chamber of Commerce has come out to back her claims of experience. Since then, her career has not exactly been on the ascent. In 1998 Boronski made $55,000 at the Springfield chamber unadjusted for inflation. In 2013, she made less than $20,000.
Her marital status is by itself immaterial, but it does have an impact on her obligations under law, particularly the ethics form and campaign finance report. She has tried to have it both ways. She is legally single, but she could not even report her own financial disclosures, blaming it on a computer error. Neither Franco nor Lesser had this problem. Not being married to her partner Dan Burack, the owner of Tekoa Country club with whom she lives, Boronski has failed to properly disclose that he owns her campaign office and has apparently paid him no rent for it, as required under law.
Were only that all. Secretary Galvin’s office is looking into her failure to comply with lobbyist laws and there may be other conflicts from her half term on the East Longmeadow Select Board.
On issues there is either little clarity or disastrously narrow-minded views. Until the debates, Boronski’s position on the minimum wage was incomprehensible. The truth was worse. She opposes the minimum wage full stop. She supports people earning a living wage, but does not want any government action to make that happen. Marie Antoinette had a similar policy we understand. On taxes, she is to the right of her party’s gubernatorial nominee, pledging her vote not to the residents of the district, but instead outsourcing it to a third party group based in Washington.
Lesser, on the other hand, is different. Qualifications for political office are inherently arbitrary, but after a life, if perhaps a charmed one, from high school forward, Lesser has proven time and time again to have the right attitude. Even before President Obama was in the US Senate, Lesser was campaigning to save teachers’ jobs. From there to Harvard, the White House, law school and now to this point, he has kept that attitude, a civic virtue, that a group of committed citizens can change the world.
Anecdotally, one of the teachers’ whose jobs were saved, observed that they still saw the same person they knew in high, not one made slick by four years in the national political bubble. There appears to be corroboration. Lesser has an appearance in Mark Leibovich’s book This Town, which savages everyone, except a few people, among them Lesser.
The complaints about his prodigious campaign financing is a red herring. In that time, Lesser has met a lot of people and they like him, too, so they donate to him. None of it, as both we and Ron Chimelis have said, is illegal or really even shady, in comparison to ethical lapses of other candidates in this race. Despite the fusillade of utter nonsense heaped upon him, Lesser has remained cool and positive, even upbeat about the race and the potential of the Pioneer Valley.
But why are we all here? It is the issues as bottom. As we said in our primary endorsement, Lesser has the right idea on high-tech manufacturing and better rail service. We again look past terms like high-speed or commuter and look at the policy. Provided CSX agrees, we are talking about mostly simple upgrading of existing right of way to provide usable service to connect east and west, a perfect metaphor for what this commonwealth needs to do to survive and thrive across the board.
We have been genuinely impressed and pleased with the energy of Lesser’s campaign. We look forward to calling him “Senator” and thus fully and completely urge voters to elect Eric Lesser tomorrow, Tuesday November 4 to the 1st Hampden & Hampshire Senate seat.