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Whately’s Edwards running for lt. gov.

WHATELY — Longtime Selectman Jonathan Edwards is putting his hat in the ring for lieutenant governor.

The Democrat officially launched and announced his campaign for statewide office this week after travelling throughout the state talking with people about his run and vision for office.

It would be Edwards’ first bid for statewide office. He said he hopes to bring a practical, real-life experience to the office. For almost 10 years, he has served on the Whately Board of Selectmen.

Edwards is the only announced candidate with direct local government experience, which he believes gives him a unique perspective in knowing how cities and towns run day to day. He hopes to work on behalf of cities and towns and help the state do more on the local level.

“I have been working in our communities for decades and will work on behalf of each of the 351 cities and towns,” Edwards said. “I will give cities and towns, along with our residents and businesses an ear, a voice and a partner in the State House.”

Edwards said he would continue to hold his selectman’s seat during the campaign, which he said would serve as “a constant reminder of what we need in the next lieutenant governor.

“It’s the closest thing one can have to voters in his or her town,” Edwards said.

Some recent projects Edwards has worked on as selectmen include forming the municipal partnership with the towns of Deerfield and Sunderland to improve the South County Senior Center and working with two other towns to help Whately become a Solarize Massachusetts town, allowing residents to lower their electric bills and fight climate change. Whately is one of the first 10 percent of cities and towns to receive a Solarize Massachusetts grant.

Along with the other selectboard members in Whately, Deerfield and Sunderland, Edwards this year helped to create the South County Emergency Medical Service, a regional 24/7 paramedic ambulance service. The towns are developing the service currently with the goal of starting in the spring.

One of Edwards’ major campaign promises is to help the state build a jobs revolution to keep the workforce and young student population in the state and to encourage people to move to Massachusetts to build their careers and families, he said.

Edwards is co-founder of SmartPower, a national nonprofit marketing firm that promotes clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. From 2002 to 2012, he telecommuted to the Washington, D.C., offices of SmartPower.

Following the industrial, high technology and bio-technology developments in the state, Edwards said he believes the next step for job growth is investment in the clean tech industry.

“We already have things in place to be a clean tech industry, which will be more and more important in our daily lives. We can take advantage of our education system and advanced manufacturing sector and can be the birthplace of clean energy,” Edwards said.

Edwards is the only candidate from Western Massachusetts running for the office, which he believes also sets him apart from his competitors and gives him a “unique lens on the direction and vision for the state.”

“I will be a critical voice for all residents and businesses from this part of the state,” Edwards said. “This voice will not be at the expense of other parts of the state, but as a partner to other parts of the state.”

Many western Massachusetts residents feel left behind and forgotten by the rest of the state, Edwards said.

“As a candidate for lieutenant governor and hopefully the future lieutenant governor, I want to make sure that happens less,” he said.

Despite coming from the least well known part of the state, Edwards said he believes he is already appealing to residents across Massachusetts. Many residents, he said, are seeing his home as an asset. Edwards said he would continue to live in Whately if elected and would have to commute back and forth across the state, allowing him to reach out to all residents.

A husband and father of two young children, Edwards said he understands what working men and women and parents deal with daily to balance their lives. Edwards said he hopes to continue to strike a balance between his work, family and campaign.

Edwards said he plan s to continue volunteering as basketball and baseball coach for the Whately Recreation while on the campaign trail. He will also continue to coach in the Frontier Cal Ripken Baseball League.

Two other Democratic contenders are Mike Lake of Melrose and Steve Kerrigan of Lancaster.

Lake currently serves as president and CEO of Leading Cities, a nonprofit that works to build solutions for cities and towns, according to his campaign website. Before that he worked as director of development for United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Kerrigan has worked on the staffs of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Attorney General Tom Reilly.

The Democratic primary for the lieutenant governor is next September.

Edwards would run independently from the candidates for governor.

After Jan. 1, nomination papers will be released, Edwards said. Candidates need to gain 10,000 signatures and receive 15 percent of the vote at the state Democratic convention to get their name on the primary ballot.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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