Natalie Blais, Democratic candidate for the First Franklin House District, has won the Massachusetts Democratic primary, earning 3,703 votes, or 40.44%.
Natalie Blais is one of the people who helped me survive the worst period of my life. In December 2012, my 55-year-old husband Dave went in for what we thought would be a 3 hour kidney operation. It turned into a 142 day nightmare when he suffered a brain injury during the surgery. Dave died the following May.
Recently, when Blais was explaining why she worked for people like Sanders, Olver and McGovern, she said she only works for people she believes in. And now she wants to work for us, for the same reason.
Today, Natalie Blais, candidate for State Representative for the First Franklin district, received the endorsement of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 336.
Retiring State Representative Steve Kulik, widely admired for his 25 years of distinguished service to the First Franklin District, announced today that he is endorsing Natalie Blais for election as the district’s next state legislator.
In the statehouse, you are assigned a seat. The seat that Representative Steve Kulik sits in was the seat that I sat in. It is the same seat that my father sat in before me. I believe it is high time for a woman to take this seat in the House chamber and I believe the best person to take that seat is Natalie Blais. I hope you will join me in supporting Natalie Blais with your vote on September 4th.
The First Franklin District is primarily rural. Policies written for urban areas don’t fit our local towns and communities. If elected to represent the 19 towns of this district, I would work collaboratively with the western Massachusetts delegation to establish an Office of Rural Policy. The western Massachusetts delegation could work collaboratively with the Office of Rural Policy to be a strong voice in Boston, spelling out our concerns for economic development, transportation, affordable housing, schools, social services, and infrastructure like broadband.
Sunderland, Mass. – Today, Natalie Blais, candidate for State Representative First Franklin District, announced that she has garnered the support of retiring State Representative John Scibak.
“If you would have told me a year or two ago that I would be leaving the Legislature along with Representative Kulik and Senator Rosenberg, I would not have believed you,” said Scibak in a statement. “I certainly would not have believed that my dear friend and colleague Representative Kocot would have left us because he was a mountain of a man – both literally and figuratively. But here we are today, having lost about 100 years of collective experience in the state legislature. We can begin to overcome that loss with the election of Natalie Blais as State Representative.”
“I am extremely grateful for Rep. Scibak’s support and am thankful for his 16 years of service to the region in the Statehouse following 12 years on the South Hadley Select Board,” said Blais. “He is a true public servant who has worked effectively alongside the western Massachusetts delegation to ensure our voices were always heard in Boston.”
“Having served as a State Representative in the legislature for the past 16 years, I know what it takes to get the job done. I can tell you that there will be a tremendous learning curve for whoever wins this seat,” said Scibak. “This fall, more than any other time, we must elect a candidate who clearly understands, from day one, the way local, state and federal government works. This year, we cannot afford to elect someone who will be learning the job as they go. That’s why I’m with Natalie 100%.”
“As the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, John has been a tremendous advocate for our institutions of public higher education,” said Blais. “As State Representative, I will use the experience I gained as Chief of Staff to UMass Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy to continue his efforts and support UMass Amherst, our state universities and community colleges.”
“Our institutions of public higher education play a critically important role in meeting the state’s workforce needs since their graduates are more likely to stay in Massachusetts after they graduate than those who graduate from private institutions,” Blais continued. “We must identify ways to ensure that these students are not saddled with debt when they graduate.”
Pointing to Blais’ current position as Executive Director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Scibak noted, “Natalie understands the role that our small businesses play in fueling the local economy. Her efforts to position the region as the outdoor recreation hub of our state will not only improve health outcomes but also support the economies of our small towns.”
Blais is running in the First Franklin District to replace retiring State Representative Steve Kulik. She has also been endorsed by retired U.S. Congressman John Olver, retired State Representative Ellen Story, Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan, Register of Probate John Merrigan, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan and Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.
If you would have told me a year or two ago that I would be leaving the Legislature along with Representative Kulik and Senator Rosenberg, I would not have believed you. I certainly would not have believed that my dear friend and colleague Representative Kocot would have left us because he was a mountain of a man – both literally and figuratively. But here we are today, having lost about 100 years of collective experience in the state legislature. We can begin to overcome that loss with the election of Natalie Blais as State Representative.
Natalie Blais is a trusted voice in the Pioneer Valley who has worked behind the scenes for some of the most progressive political leaders in our nation. Over the last decade, she has gained firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing our local communities from her former bosses, U.S. Representatives John Olver and Jim McGovern. They taught her that solutions are most successful when they come from the people who will be affected. And so, Natalie has rolled up her sleeves and worked alongside municipal officials, non-profits, business leaders and residents to advance community priorities.
Rather than throwing up her hands and saying a challenge is too difficult to overcome, Natalie pulls stakeholders together to find innovative solutions. I witnessed this often during her time as Chief of Staff to Chancellor Subbaswamy at UMass Amherst.
When others are in need of assistance, Natalie is the first to raise her hand to help. I saw her respond when a fire destroyed Hadley businesses, when a tornado ripped through the region and when floodwaters tore through local farmlands. She worked collaboratively with a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure that those impacted received the public assistance they needed as quickly as possible.
As the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Natalie understands the role that our small businesses play in fueling the local economy. Her efforts to position the region as the outdoor recreation hub of our state will not only improve health outcomes but also support the economies of our small towns.
Natalie is driven by a fierce desire to serve others and improve the quality of life for all people. Her public service over the last decade has certainly improved the lives of many. She has made strong, healthy, connected communities the centerpiece of her campaign.
Having served as a State Representative in the legislature for the past 16 years, I know what it takes to get the job done. I can tell you that there will be a tremendous learning curve for whoever wins this seat. This fall, more than any other time, we must elect a candidate who clearly understands, from day one, the way local, state and federal government works. This year, we cannot afford to elect someone who will be learning the job as they go. That’s why I’m with Natalie 100%.
There is no other candidate with her experience. None with her established relationships. Natalie Blais is the only choice for State Representative to ensure that the voices of the First Franklin district are heard loudly in the halls of the statehouse from the very first day she is sworn into office. That’s why I’m endorsing Natalie Blais and why she deserves your vote on September 4th.
John Scibak, State Representative
2nd Hampshire District
Today, Natalie Blais, Democratic candidate for State Representative, First Franklin District, called on Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to enter into a multi-year contract to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) benefits at farmers' markets.
“We need to be looking at over $6 million to make sure the HIP program is adequately funded, and that we’re not running into this issue time and time again … It is critical for the economic welfare of our small businesses, our small farms,” and pointed to a more immediate problem at the federal level — the contract for the data firm handling HIP accounts runs out at the end of July.
On Saturday, July 14, Natalie Blais, candidate for State Representative for the First Franklin District, will be meeting constituents in Williamsburg, Whately, Sunderland, and Turners Falls to talk about the future of the district and hear directly from voters.
MWPC pointed to Blais’ experience, her commitment to public service after working for U.S. Representatives John Olver and Jim McGovern, and her longtime residency in western Massachusetts.
“I am truly grateful for the endorsement of the MWPC and for their belief in my candidacy,” said Blais. “The MWPC has worked tirelessly to educate and engage voters on the necessity of increasing the number of women in public office.”
“After participating in the five candidate forums held to date, I’ve seen all the candidates up close and have concluded that Natalie Blais offers the best fit to represent the First Franklin District at this time. She has strong qualifications and is putting together a strong campaign,” said Baker. “And if the voters agree, they will have the added benefit of increasing the number of women serving in the State Legislature.”
In a statement issued today, retired U.S. Representative John W. Olver endorsed Natalie Blais in the race to succeed retiring State Representative Steve Kulik.
The First Franklin District cannot do better than Natalie Blais. She has the energy, values and preparation that will allow her to succeed in this challenging job.
“Together, we strongly endorse Natalie Blais’ candidacy for the First Franklin District,” said Donelan, Merrigan and Sullivan. “Natalie was at the table with us the very first day the Opioid Task Force was formed and has been a partner in efforts to prevent opioid addiction and expand access to treatment and recovery.”
As someone who’s worked for a decade as congressional aide to Rep. Jim McGovern, and before that Rep. John Olver, Blais declared, “I’m the person who can hit the ground running.”
From where I sit, the only “complete player” in the bunch appears to be Blais, at least at this point.
There are a lot of things that impress me about Blais, but what pulled me off the fence was her performance in the recent Franklin County League of Women Voters First Franklin District Climate Change forum at Frontier Regional School.