Francia Wisnewski’s Statement on the FY2019 Budget and End of the 190th General Court

I congratulate our legislators on the completion of the 190th General Court as of midnight last night, and on the passage on the FY2019 budget in recent days. I am pleased to see approval of an expanded response to opioid addiction, including adoption of successful practices already in use in Franklin and Hampden counties to address addiction among inmates in our jails, and the passage of the NASTY Women Act, repealing archaic constraints on Massachusetts’ women’s right to choose. I also welcome the passage of an economic development bill that provides some protection to workers and support to our Massachusetts economy, infrastructure, and workforce development.

However, I am disappointed in what did and did not happen in the final weeks and days of the session. In budget negotiations over the past month, the Legislature gave up early on protecting the physical safety and emotional wellbeing of immigrants and their families. Its decision to drop a provision from the budget that would have restricted local law enforcement from acting on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security is a blow to some of the most vulnerable people in MA, and an unfortunate signal to the many cities and towns that have already implemented such policies that our state government is unwilling to follow its citizens’ lead.

More recently, the House and Senate gave in to insurance industry pressure and failed to reach a compromise on legislation aimed at supporting the struggling community hospitals and health centers on which most of our rural population depends. Chapter 70 school funding reform continues to be kicked down the road, despite recent research from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center further confirming that the current funding formula is shortchanging districts and harming our schools and students. The failure of the Healthy Youth Act means we will keep going without comprehensive and age-appropriate education about sexual and reproductive health. Disability insurers may continue to discriminate against women. Our commitment to transitioning to solar power and other renewables continues to appear half-hearted just when we need to be taking bold steps.

I’m also disappointed in the manner in which our Legislature consistently finds itself rushing to make major decisions at literally the 11th hour. The people of Massachusetts deserve a chance to truly hear and understand the major policy and funding decisions being debated by their representatives. It is unacceptable that final bills come out from behind closed doors only hours or even minutes before being voted on, and yet such practices seem to have become institutionalized on Beacon Hill. I believe that budgets are moral documents and, similarly, the process by which budget and other policy decisions are made demonstrates the priorities of the decision-makers. The people of the Commonwealth deserve decision-makers who prioritize transparency and accountability, not closed doors and last-minute deals.

I am running for State Representative because I believe we need people in the Legislature who bring new and different perspectives, and who value transparency, equity, and inclusive participation. As a woman of color, an immigrant, and a proud Massachusetts resident who has served our communities in the Pioneer Valley for nearly 20 years, I will work tirelessly to amplify the voices of working families and all who are tired of their wellbeing and safety being postponed by a Legislature that fails to reflect their experiences, priorities, and values.

“Continuing the Political Revolution announces endorsements” – Greenfield Recorder, July 12, 2018

“Using ranked-choice voting, members of Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution have issued their endorsements in the Democratic primary races, including those for 1st Franklin House District and the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Senate District. . .

“Since the 60 percent threshold for FCCPR a single endorsement was not reached in the seven-candidate 1st Franklin race, Kate Albright-Hanna and Francia Wisnewski, as the top two candidates, won the endorsement.”

http://www.recorder.com/political-notebook-071218-18771910

“Plethora of candidates raises questions for voters” – Greenfield Recorder, 7/2/18

By RICHIE DAVIS

Sunday, July 01, 2018
So many candidates, so little time (64 days) until the primary.

With eight Democrats vying to fill the 1st Franklin District House seat being vacated by Rep. Stephen Kulik and six Democrats running — five of them write-ins, no less — for the Hampshire-Franklin-Hampden Senate seat vacated by Sen. Stan Rosenberg, sorting through where they all stand and who should get your vote can be tricky.

It may be especially tricky in the Senate race, where making sure that voters fill in the exactly correct name and address of their favorite candidate, and where candidate Chelsea Kline has the decided advantage of having her name as the only one appearing on the ballot.

The reality of these two races among four legislative seats without incumbents running in western Massachusetts, a region without much clout traditionally other Beacon Hill, makes the election results all the more important. And yet, as candidate Nathaniel Waring, who’s distinguished himself as “a different kind of candidate,” with no previous experience in government at any level, put it, “I don’t have to convince 51 percent of the people in my district that they need to vote for me; I need to convince maybe 20 percent of the people to vote for me. That allows you to be a little looser, with a less worrying about broad appeal to the masses.”

The other candidates, crisscrossing a 19-town district that’s nearly half the size of Rhode Island, are trying to distinguish themselves by touting their experience, their energy level or their commitment to making change, although their positions on issues sound very similar. Knocking on hundreds of door, phoning hundreds of voters, attending dozens of fairs, town festivities and meet-and-greet events, the eight Democrats know that, with no Republicans on the ballot for the House Seat (or for Rosenberg’s Senate seat, for that matter) the election will be decided in 10 short weeks.

Yet another campaign, which has lots more time, is just gearing up, trying to offer a solution to this exact situation.

Voter Choice Massachusetts, which launched in January, is trying to spread the word about the advantages of ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, which they hope to place as a ballot question in 2020 — the same election when the victors in September’s Senate and House primaries will likely be seeking re-election.

Ranked-choiceRanked-choice voting allows for voters to indicate their first, second, third and fourth choice candidates — and so on — simulating a series of runoff elections until there is a majority winner, with the lowest-ranked candidate eliminated in each round of tabulations.

“This is a perfect case for ranked-choice voting,” says Amherst College Academic Technology Specialist Andy Anderson, an advocate of the approach, about the eight-way 1st Franklin race. He expects that, with several more weeks of campaigning, distinctions in the field of hopefuls will shake out, “but you may still end up with a few candidates in the 25 percent range. With ranked-choice voting , people can look at them and say, ‘I like these guys and these guys and these guys. I’ll rank these a little more than those guys.’ You’d hope that voters will take look at everyone and have some idea of what they are, instead of latching onto one right away.”

The problem with an eight-way contest, he pointed out, is that it tends to dilute the power of the vote.

“If the person who has the greatest popularity among them has only 20 percent of the vote, that means 80 percent of the people are voting against them,” he said. “That’s the fundamental issue. This is the method to down to someone who not only has the core support of 20 percent but who also has broad support, so that more voters are satisfied with the outcome.”

Amherst adopted ranked-choice voting as part of its new town charter and expects to use the method in its first town council election in 2021, said Anderson. The only other Massachusetts community with it until now has been Cambridge — with the oldest instant-runoff system in the nation for its city council and school committee elections.

But that could change, either with a 2020 ballot question, or through pending legislation that’s been co-sponsored by Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, I-Amherst. House Bill 2897, which was also co-sponsored by the late Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, would provide ranked-choice voting as a local option; the other, House Bill 377, would establish ranked choice voting for all state contests.

Goldstein-Rose, who won election after a six-way Democratic primary in 2016, said, “Right now, two similar candidates running could really hurt each other’s chances, because they’ll split votes. Under ranked-choice voting, they can help each other’s chances, because they’ll be providing similar messages and won’t split votes.”

Goldstein-Rose, who pointed to the subtleties and styles among large pools of candidates who seem to have very similar positions, said ranked-choice eliminates the need for voters to have to “vote strategically” to avoid spoilers.

“You can always prevent the person you think is worst from being elected, without sacrificing support for the person who you” want most,” he said. “It more accurately represents voters’ choices.”

The system could even allow for ranking multiple write-in candidates, as there are in the race for Rosenberg’s former Senate seat. And since the standard is that the voter’s intent is clear, remembering all of the candidates’ addresses and correct name spellings wouldn’t even be critical, said Goldstein-Rose.

More than 65 percent of voters in the 1st Franklin District approved a nonbinding referendum question on the 2004 ballot supporting ranked-choice voting for state office, while a pair of 2002 referendum questions in two Hampshire County House of Representative districts own with more than 68 and 71 percent, respectively.

“We know a lot of people out here already heard of it and feel strongly about it, so we need to go out and talk with people to harness that support, making it a runway to a ballot question,” said Liz Popolo, who heads the Voter Choice Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley Chapter. Even though there were differences over the Amherst charter itself earlier this year, she said, the ranked-choice aspect of the charter had unanimous support.

Instead of facing “a dilemma a lot of voters have to make,” she says, between a favorite candidate and one who’s most viable, balancing whether to choose “somebody you don’t like as much because you’re worried about getting someone you don’t want,” ranked-choice balloting allows voters to express a their range of feelings about the candidates without the risk that their ballot is wasted if their top choice doesn’t get a majority.

The current system, Pololo says, pointing to 2016 GOP Presidential primary, “favors outlier candidates, because if you have multiple candidates who draw from a similar base of support, or a partisan base, or demographic base or a policy base, they will split that vote, and that can hand the election to somebody who’s more of an extreme or different.

Ranked-choice voting discourages negative campaigning and — in a way that emphasizes cooperation rather than competition — can even encourage coalition building among candidates to encourage voters to rank a fellow candidate second, so they both consolidate their bases of support.

“As a candidate, you need not only have core base of support, but a broad reach,” she says.

In Maine, where voters used ranked-choice voting for the first time in the 2018 primary, after a widely supported 2016 referendum and a 2018 “people’s veto” of an attempted legislative delay of implementation, University of Maine political science Associate Professor James Melcher said, “It doesn’t stop all negative campaigning, but it makes all candidates try to appeal to other candidates, so you get alliances. “It has the potential to really engage voters more. If you have an eight-way race, you could easily win with 25 or 30 percent of the vote, but other people could hate that person.”

Ranked-choice voting, which can require multiple successive tallies before a winner is declared, requires a public education campaign, such as the Maine Secretary of State’s Office video linked to below.

On the Web: www.votechoicema.org

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcGGH7E_vNk

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc539ra0RRE

http://www.recorder.com/Plethora-of-candidates-raises-questions-for-voters-18446746

Letter to Supporters about Family Separation

Dear Friends,

Like you, I am outraged and sickened by what is currently happening at the U.S. border. Ripping children away from their parents, separating families who came here only seeking a better life, keeping children in cages and tent cities: I recognize as a parent and an educator that these children and their parents are being purposefully abused and traumatized. Such practices are not justifiable by any political, religious, moral, or legal argument. Families belong together, and people should be treated with dignity and compassion. Period.

I am an immigrant, and Western Massachusetts is my adopted home. I came here from Colombia nearly 20 years ago in search of better safety and opportunities. I got my Master’s degree at UMass, met my husband Mark, and settled here near Mark’s extended family to raise our children. My own parents are actually traveling from Colombia this week to visit us and see their growing grandsons, who also go to visit them as often as we can afford it, because family bonds are precious.

Many people are reading the news and asking: “What can I do? How can I help?”. I reached out to a friend who works on immigration reform and immigrant rights at the National Immigration Forum for advice on how we can take action. Here are some helpful ways you can stand up for families and immigrants and against this administration’s dangerous policies:

Call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to push back on policies that separate families. The ACLU has a great calling tool that makes this very easy: www.aclu.org/issues/call-senators-stop-dhs-separating-children. You can also call directly to the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Congressperson’s office. We are lucky here in the 1st Franklin to have Senators and a Representative who are leading the fight against our government’s human rights violations, but it’s still important to let them know you care about this issue.

Support, with money and/or time, organizations doing urgent work.
This is a great recent article in Slate with a clear explanation of the law and policies, and a long list of organizations doing good work on this issue. The Pioneer Valley Workers Center is also a great source of information and organizing around low-wage and immigrant labor issues locally.

Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address, and VOTE. Help register voters and get out the vote. In Massachusetts, you can check and update your registration at www.sec.state.ma.us/ovr/. This President’s vile intentions are currently unchecked by this GOP Congress, and that situation will only change if Congress changes.

One of the reasons I am running for State Representative is that I believe representation really matters, and that it’s important to demonstrate that people like me–Latinx, immigrants, women, people who speak with an accent–also belong at the table and in the halls of power. I have worked for nearly two decades in Western Mass for education, equity, and wellbeing for ALL people, and I know how to make my voice heard even when it’s easier for some people to turn away. I will make your voice heard at the State House, and I will work tirelessly for children and families, and for equity and justice in Massachusetts and beyond.

PLEASE DONATE TODAY to help me win.

In solidarity,

“Shelburne celebrates 250 years with parade” – Greenfield Recorder 6/25/18

http://www.recorder.com/Shelburne-celebrates-250-years-with-massive-parade-18391253


Recorder Staff

Sunday, June 24, 2018

SHELBURNE — Engines revving, trumpets blaring, muskets firing and children laughing were just a few of the sounds heralding Shelburne’s 250th birthday celebrations this weekend.

The sestercentennial event saw Shelburne throw a huge parade, which stretched from Cricket Field in Buckland, across the Iron Bridge and onto Bridge Street, and down to Buckland Shelburne Elementary School on Mechanic Street Saturday.

It started with Shelburne Falls’ American Legion Post 135 and the William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps, the latter of which wore Continental Army replica uniforms from the American Revolution and fluting and drumming while marching down the street.

“This is the best one — better than Ashfield’s,” said parader Lenny Roberts.

Roberts and Alan Garlick marched with local members of Shriners International, wearing and driving their characteristic red fez hats and miniature vehicles.

“I think this is really great,” said Roberts, all of a sudden pulling the throttle on his tiny ATV and wheeling up to some folks watching from the side walk.

The Shriners were one of the main attractions in the parade, and they had the crowd hooting and hollering while they did a brief stunt show in the street.

Some drove tiny versions of a Peter Pan bus or 18-wheeler, while others drove their go-carts in circles, drifting with screeching tires.

A large Shriners truck sat in the middle of the encircling roadsters, and a metal ramp led up and down the front and back of the truck, respectively. Turning their go-carts toward the back of the truck, the Shriners sped up, drove up the truck, across the large vehicle’s roof, down the last ramp in front of the vehicle and back onto the street.

The crowd roared with approval.

Other vehicles followed the Shriners — local police cars, including a vintage Franklin County Sheriff’s Department cruiser, fire trucks, ambulances and tractors.

The Davenport family from the Davenport Maple Farm Restaurant rode a tractor and held a sign reading, “Proud of our Shelburne roots for six generations.”

On the side of the tractor were old, blown-up, black and white photographs of past Davenports, each labeled “Generation 1,” “Generation 2” and so on.

Pack 85 Cub Scouts, the First Congregational Church of Shelburne and even aspiring politicians showed up to celebrate Shelburne’s long history.

Francia Wisnewski, chair of the Hampshire and Franklin Commission on the Status of Women and Girls — and candidate for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives — and other local figures like Natalie Blais of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce marched and stopped frequently to talk to parade-goers.

“It’s amazing, the energy coming from the citizens,” Wisnewski said. “The community and the constituents, they’re all here.”

Once the paraders reached the elementary school, they were greeted with the smells of grilled hot dogs and tacos, coffee and more as a small fair had been erected next to the athletic fields.

People bought crafts from the various vendors, relaxed and listened to local band Zydeco Connection. Most of all, they laughed, shared memories and celebrated their town’s 250th birthday.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

 

My opening statement at the Buckland-Shelburne Candidates Forum – 6/12/18

My opening statement from last night’s forum, hosted by the Buckland- Shelburne Democratic Town Committees. (Candidates were given 5 minutes to introduce themselves, what town they are from, their preferred gender pronoun, and to discuss the first 2 pieces of legislation they would file or co-sponsor.)

Good evening. My name is Francia Wisnewski, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I live in Montague. I’m running for State Representative because I have seen and experienced the struggles of working families first-hand. First Franklin is a unique district and I am a unique candidate. I have worked for 17 years all over Franklin and Hampshire counties in education, social justice, and community development, including being elected twice to School Committee. I want to bring this experience to the State House to work for YOU to improve the lives of everyone in our district. We have had strong local representation on Beacon Hill for a long time, and I will build on those strengths to keep working for our district’s priorities.

I was raised by two hard-working and caring parents who taught me that community and education are the keys to success in life, and I thank them for making education possible for me. I am proud to be a product of public education systems, including coming to the United States to attend UMass-Amherst. I am lucky that I have been able to get good jobs and settle down to raise my family in Franklin County.

But over the past several decades in the US, many people have not been so fortunate. We have seen an economy that has left many working people and families behind. You can no longer support a family on a single income, and certainly not on minimum wage. We struggle to find good jobs, to afford healthcare, and get a good education. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck. We need a government that understands the challenges people face across the Commonwealth, and works for us to address these issues.

As your legislator, I will work hard for:
-fully funded public education
-local economic development, including broadband and transportation
-single payer healthcare
-addressing climate change

The first two bills I would co-sponsor as your Representative would reflect these priorities:

First, a bill to reform Chapter 70 to achieve full and fair education funding. Several proposals have been introduced this session, and I would work with my fellow western MA and rural Representatives to make it the strongest possible legislation for lower-income and rural areas like ours.

Second, I would immediately sign on as a cosponsor of Bill #2987 to create single-payer healthcare in Massachusetts. This is an absolutely necessary step forward to bring healthcare costs down and ensure coverage for all residents of Massachusetts. I would also support Representative Benson’s bill to conduct a 3-year study on healthcare costs so that we understand what the real financial issues are and how to address them in a single payer system.

We will talk more about the issues tonight, so right now I want to tell you about the values that guide my decisions and how I will work as your legislator:

  • I believe in transparency. Government should belong to the people, and you should be able to find out where your tax dollars are going and get answers to your questions without confusion or hassle.
  • I believe your Representative should be accessible, and responsive to your concerns. As many people have already noticed during this campaign, I show up, whether you’re in Montague or Chester. And I will continue to do that as your Representative.
  • I believe that strong families build strong communities, and I will fight to keep Massachusetts families thriving.
  • I believe that local businesses are our biggest economic strength and our economic policies should encourage and protect them.
  • I believe in economic policies that help regular people, not the super rich.
  • I believe everyone deserves to earn a living wage and have access to healthcare and education without fear of debt and bankruptcy.
  • I am a strong supporter of both the arts, and I believe they make our communities richer and happier places to live.
  • I believe that no one has all the answers, and everyone has something to contribute. I will always work hard to listen and learn, and I will ask tough questions when necessary, and I will be persistent.

    It is my commitment to continue sustaining and improving systems to better serve our communities and the Commonwealth, and to treat all people with respect and dignity. A vote for me is a vote for a fresh voice and grassroots perspective in the State House. I have the integrity, experience, and commitment that are needed to represent this district, and I will be grateful for your vote on September 4. Please visit my website to learn more: ElectFrancia.com.

Lack of equal coverage – Letter to the Editor, Greenfield Recorder, 6/14/18

Thursday, June 14, 2018

In Richie Davis’s May 24 coverage of the 1st Franklin Democratic Candidate Forum held on May 23, opinions of all candidates were cited except Francia Wisnewski, the only female minority candidate in the race. In fact, some candidates’ positions were mentioned several times.

The lack of coverage for all candidates could imply, at a minimum, implicit bias on the part of the reporter. Ms. Wisnewski has a public record of action, results and support for progressive causes over many years. Voters should know about her when they are deliberating about this important election.

Analee Wulfkuhle, South Deerfield

http://www.recorder.com/Letter-to-the-Editor-Lack-of-equal-coverage-17979839

“1st Franklin District candidates meet the voters” – Greenfield Recorder, 6/14/18


Recorder Staff

Thursday, June 14, 2018

SHELBURNE FALLS — In an eight-way primary contest for a state in which the hopefuls have vastly different levels of experience and very similar-sounding positions, a forum Tuesday gave 1st Franklin District voters a chance to see distinctions among them.

The candidates — 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, Nathaniel Waring of Sunderland and Francia Wisnewski of Montague — responded mostly to questions submitted by the 70 or so people attending the two-hour forum at Mohawk Trail Regional High School.

One question, about whether they had been to elected office, showed the vast range of experience.

Pease, who as a 22-year-old sophomore at the University of Massachusetts was the youngest paid staffer on the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign, said he was elected a class vice president as well as chair of his town’s Democratic committee and Waring, “a very different candidate (who) wouldn’t make a good politician,” was elected a delegate to the state Democratic Convention, while Doktor said she was elected to the board of the Old Creamery Co-Op and Albright-Hanna said she was elected secretary of Huntington’s Democratic committee.

Edwards was elected to five terms on the Whately Selectboard as well as other posts, while Wisnewski pointed to being elected twice to the Greenfield School Committee as well as to Montague Town Meeting and other positions, Baker pointed to his two terms as a Shelburne Selectboard member and his six years on the School Committee, and Blais was elected a Sunderland Public Library trustee.

Yet 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.” Pease pointed to himself as someone with a lifetime of familiarity with issues in the district “who has the energy and the passion to be bold,” and passion for political action. Meanwhile, Doktor pointed to her legal expertise as well as her part-time farming experience, Albright-Hanna pointed to her work as a “muckraking journalist,” Wisnewski described being “a unique candidate” who’s worked for 17 years all over Franklin and Hampshire counties in education, social justice, and community development. Baker described his experience in green energy and workforce development and community development throughout the district, Edwards emphasized his work in workforce development as well as coalition building, partly as chair of the Franklin County Selectboard Association, while Waring said, “We need someone who’ll represent poor people, not just saying, ‘I’m a rich person, I’m going to be representing poor people,’ to talk about poverty.”

The candidates pointed to their priority issues and those they’d focus on in their first legislative proposals if elected.

Baker called for legislation to ensure that any shortfall in funding for regional school transportation be deducted equally from charter school appropriations and to support “innovative college readiness programs at community colleges. Wisnewski called for reform of Chapter 70 to achieve “full and fair education funding,” and said she would immediately sign on to legislation to create a single-payer healthcare system in the state.

Blais called for fully funding Payment in Lieu of Taxes and ensuring that funding exists before additional land is purchased the state. She said that the “scarcity aid” being proposed for rural public schools also should be provided for rural transportation, health care access, infrastructure and downtown revitalization through a “a gateway cities type program for rural areas.”

Doktor said her priorities include providing single-payer health insurance, better funding public education and reforming the state Department of Public Utilities as a way to move forward with solar and other renewable energy solutions. Edwards said his priorities include fully funding regional school transportation as well as special education at the state level, appointing an assistant economic development secretary for western Mass.

Pease also said he would press for mandatory full regional school transportation reimbursement and periodically updating the Chapter 70 school aid formula, as well as a strong comprehensive clean energy bill in the House to provide clean energy jobs and carbon pricing.

Waring said he would seek a “bill of rights” that provides for raises in the minimum wage to $20 by 2025 and $25 an hour by 2030.

Each of the candidates voiced support for a single-payer health bill, but Edwards cautioned, “We need the political capital to make sure it doesn’t paralyze us and it doesn’t cost us election after election after election. It needs to be done in the right way.”

Waring, as someone who’s had his children on MassHealth, warned, “There are ups and downs to single-payer. There are so many things wrong with MassHealth, and we have to make sure we don’t fall into the same problems with single-payer. Let’s not rush too much into it and pass something that’s not going to work.”

Pease said, “We have to be bold and put pressure on leadership” to see a single-payer plan pass, while Blais — referring to Leverett’s plan to meet Trump voters in Kentucky, said, “We have to break down barriers and reach across the aisles and be willing to have difficult conversations with people who do not believe the same things we do. Not talking to those people is what got us Trump in the first place.”

http://www.recorder.com/1st-Franklin-forum-18165024

Greenfield Recorder, 4/10/18

http://www.recorder.com/b1–Swihart-leaves-1st-Franklin-race-16745785

Elizabeth Swihart leaves race for Kulik’s seat


Recorder Staff

Monday, April 09, 2018

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 8.

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.

“Luckily, the 1st Franklin District is teeming with people who want the chance to be its voice. With this group of eight candidates, one in particular stands out to me: Francia Wisnewski. I urge you to shake her hand, tell her your story. She will listen. And then she will fight for your interests. 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.”

In a statement released Monday, Wisnewski said, ” I am honored and grateful to have Elizabeth’s support, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with her toward our shared goals for our community.”

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 her 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 childcare, noting that Massachusetts has the highest average cost of childcare 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. “Assisting candidates with the cost of childcare would allow more primary caregivers to run for office, in turn providing better representation of the needs of children and families in state government.”

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.

The 1st Franklin District includes Ashfield, Buckland, Chester, Chesterfield, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, Goshen, Huntington, Leverett, Middlefield, Montague, Plainfield, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Whately, Williamsburg, and Worthington.