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State Rep. Kulik says he won’t seek re-election

Local officials bemoan loss of his leadership

  • KULIK



Recorder Staff
Monday, February 12, 2018

BOSTON — State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, announced Monday that, after 25 years in the Legislature, he will not seek re-election for another term.

“Serving as state representative from the 1st Franklin District has been a great privilege, and I am so grateful to the voters who have put their trust and confidence in me to be their voice at the State House for the past 25 years,” said Kulik, who at 67 says, “It seems like a good time to make a change and do some other things to spend more time in western Mass,” after his 13th term ends in January.

Kulik, first elected in 1993, is vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

During his years in the Legislature, he has championed issues of importance to small towns and rural communities, including education, local government, agriculture, transportation, green energy policy and environmental quality.

In the state’s most rural House district, Kulik said, “I have worked hard to increase awareness in state government of the unique challenges and needs faced by my constituents in matters like health care, transportation, school funding, broadband, economic development and human services.”

His announcement was met by regret by supporters in the 19-town 1st Franklin District, which includes Ashfield, Buckland, Conway Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland and Whately in Franklin County.

“He’s just been an amazing advocate for the environment and for agriculture, someone you can always count on to be on the right side of things and doing the right thing,” said Richard Hubbard, executive director of Franklin Land Trust. “He’s straightforward and honest, and someone you could always call on to step up and help with incredible issues. We have a really incredible legislative and congressional delegation out here, and Steve’s really at the top.”

Longtime supporter M.A. Swedlund of Deerfield said, “He’s been good on all the issues — at the top of my list are climate change, solar and alternative energy, in which there’s an incredible battle in the Legislature right now. I will be really sorry to see him go. I really appreciate how accessible he’s been through all the years.”

Phoebe Walker, who serves as Buckland’s town moderator and is community services director for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said, “I’m stunned, and very sad to see it. He’s just been an absolute stalwart for this region. What a loss — he’s been just such a leader in so many areas, like on agriculture and on food policy. He’s done such cutting edge work on the food plan for Massachusetts. And he’s helped with a number of public health initiatives.”

Before his election to the Legislature, Kulik served 11 years as a selectman in Worthington, where he was active in regional and statewide organizations promoting the interests of small towns. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

As a legislator, Kulik has led on key issues such as public education, the environment and energy, economic development, health care, food and agricultural policy and municipal government.

Some of his key achievements have been to reform health insurance for municipal workers, to strengthen and fund the Community Preservation Act, to establish a statewide Food Policy Council and to create a state tax credit for donations of land for open space and conservation.

As a member of the state’s Dairy Farm Task Force, he helped write and pass 2007 legislation to stabilize and strengthen the state’s dairy farms.

In addition to working on Ways and Means to draft a state budget proposal for the year beginning July 1, Kulik said among his main objectives for the remainder of his final legislative term will be to increase the cap on dairy tax credit from $4 million to $8 million to help dairy through years when prices received by farmers fall below the cost of producing milk.

Other top priorities include to pass the Rural Jobs Act, which would provide tax credits for creating jobs in rural areas, as well as zoning reform — an issue that he has worked on for years.

“I look forward to working on these issues with energy and enthusiasm during the remaining 11 months of my term,” said Kulik, adding that he wanted to make his announcement to coincide with the period when nomination papers are available for candidates to run for his seat.

Kulik said he also hopes to advance key highway and economic development projects, including rehabilitation of the 71-year-old General Pierce Bridge between Montague City and Greenfield.

Kulik founded the Small Town and Rural Caucus, and is a member of the Regional School Caucus, the Regional Transportation Caucus, the Manufacturing Caucus, and the Progressive Caucus. He is active in several regional and national legislative organizations, including serving on the executive committee of the Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference, where he is a member of Northeast States for Agricultural Stewardship.

Kulik is also vice-chair of State Agriculture and Rural Leaders , a national group of legislators who work on state and federal policy issues regarding agriculture, water resources, environment, trade, and other issues of importance to rural communities.

“It’s been a good run, and I’ve enjoyed the work, ” said Kulik. “It’s been an amazing experience. But many of my personal friends are retired, and I’ve realized there are other things I can do in life.