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.