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.

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