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Lee, Andrews set for 2014 rematch

ORANGE — Voters will likely see a rematch next November between incumbent state Rep. Denise Andrews and Athol Selectman Susannah Whipps Lee , who last year were matched in a contest the incumbent won by just 180 votes.

Lee, a Republican and Athol native who garnered 44 percent of the vote in challenging Democrat Andrews last November in a three-way race for the Second Franklin House District, announced her candidacy 11 days after Andrews, an Orange native, announced her bid for a third two-year term.

In the 2012 election, which followed a four-way Democratic primary contest, then-freshman Andrews won with 8,264 votes to Lee’s 8,084 in a district that had been reconfigured eastward but includes Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Warwick and Wendell in Franklin County. Independent candidate Richard F. Schober Jr. of Templeton garnered 1,906 votes.

Had his votes been split between the other candidates, the race could easily have tipped either way.

In her announcement this week, Lee said, “We’ve never seen a time when there was more economic need and so little effective economic leadership from our state Legislature. The incumbent has not made a positive impact on the economic environment in the Second Franklin District.”

A 44-year-old co-owner of the manufacturing business founded by her parents in 1977, Lee has been an Athol selectman for seven years, is a charter member of and past president of the Friends of the Athol Council on Aging and for the past 10 years has been president of Athol Historical Society.

“I am a proven jobs creator, innovator and public servant with a consistent history of improving the community that I serve,” she wrote. “The people of Second Franklin can rest assured that I’ll bring with me all the drive, hard work and commitment to my job as a state representative that I have every day to Whipps Inc. and to my community.”

Lee also took aim at Andrews, a 54-year-old former Procter & Gamble corporate manager, for voting for a state spending plan that included an increase in the gasoline tax.

“Representatives need to hear from their constituents and vote according to the wishes of those they represent. I believe that every increase in taxes should be debated and discussed. I am wholeheartedly opposed to the recent gas tax which was voted to automatically increase with inflation without future debate. This tax hurts the working people, especially those in this district who have no access to public transportation.”

In their last contest, Lee and Andrews differed on issues including stand-your-ground legislation and especially on the role that state government can play in fostering economic development, with Lee calling for business taxation and regulation to be lessened to make the state more business-friendly. The campaign was marred by an incident that surfaced after the Sept. 6 primary, in which Andrews reported to Athol’s police chief that an unnamed informant had claimed he had sold cocaine to Lee. A police department investigation later found that the charges were unfounded.

Lee said in her written statement, “I look forward to waging a spirited, issues-based campaign that will show voters in the district how their lives will be better off with a representative that knows how to increase private sector employment, rather than the incumbent, who seems to only know how to increase taxation.”

On the Web: www.lee4rep.com

www.deniseandrews.org

You can reach Richie Davis at
rdavis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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