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Natalie Blais to keep Chamber leadership, candidacy separate

  • Natalie Blais was named the Executive Director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce in August 2017. On Sunday, she announced her intention to run for the 1st Franklin District seat at the state house. Recorder FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

GREENFIELD — For Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Natalie Blais, there will be “a wall” between her candidacy for the state representative and her current position.

Blais announced over the weekend that she will be running for the 1st Franklin District seat after state Rep. Stephen Kulik announced his intention to retire. However, Blais said that this candidacy will not affect her current position with the chamber, and according to chamber Board of Directors Chairwoman Linda Dunlavy, Blais has the support of the board.

“I’m very serious about keeping my job as Franklin County Chamber of Commerce executive director separate from my campaign,” Blais said.

Blais made the announcement of her candidacy on Sunday following deliberation on the matter, including writing down reasons why she wanted to run, which began following Kulik’s decision to not seek re-election. She said that she “went back and forth like a pendulum” on the matter but felt that the timing was right.

“It’s clear right now is the time for me,” she said. “These opportunities don’t come along very often.”

According to Blais, she will take care of campaign events during her hours away from her job, or while using a personal day if need be.

Before any of that, though, Blais said she still needs to gather enough signatures — 150 certified, she said — before her name can even appear on the ballot. That is part of her plan this weekend, in addition to creating a Zeus costume for her son, because, as Blais noted, she has to be a mother and wife, as well.

Dunlavy said the chamber executive board was informed of the decision prior to Blais announcing her intention publicly.

“I think Natalie would be an unbelievably great representative for our region,” Dunlavy said.

If Blais were to get elected, Dunlavy said it would be hard and sad for the chamber, but the organization would support Blais no matter where she went in public service.

Blais and Dunlavy said it’s too early to consider how to replace her if she’s elected.

“I’m taking it one step at a time. Nothing is in place at this time,” Blais said. “I have to get signatures, get on the ballot, make people believe I’m right for the position.”

You can reach Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257