LaRose: 2nd Franklin District needs a vision

  • LaROSE

For the Recorder
Published: 10/27/2020 4:49:06 PM

ATHOL — Athol High School alumnus, Cornell University graduate and U.S. Army veteran Will LaRose says there’s one important thing that separates him from 2nd Franklin District state Rep. Susannah Whipps, the Independent incumbent lawmaker he hopes to unseat in Tuesday’s election.

“I’ve been saying it throughout the campaign,” said LaRose, the Democratic candidate. “I think it’s vision and I think it’s policy-based solutions. Whether it’s Martin Luther King, whether it’s Abraham Lincoln, all the great leaders of this country had a vision they laid out, the future they wanted to bring about. And then they went about trying to achieve it.

“I don’t think my opponent has done a very strong job at articulating that,” he continued. “I think if you’re asking for a fourth term, you need to be very clear on what you want to do with it so that the people of the district have something to hold you accountable on.”

LaRose said the people of the 2nd Franklin District — which includes Athol, Warwick, Orange, Erving, Gill, Wendell, New Salem, Phillipston, Royalston, Templeton and Belchertown (Precinct A) — deserve more than what he calls “platitudes.”

“It’s not enough to say, ‘Experience matters’ or ‘I’m an independent voice.’” he said. “I think when you strip away political ideology, when you strip away how long you’ve been here, where your family comes from, it comes down to what you’re going to do and what bills you’re going to pass. And if you don’t have that, I don’t think you deserve a fourth term.”

LaRose believes he has the vision the district needs.

“The big things I want to see are an extension of vocational and technical education,” he said. “I think we do a disservice to our young people when they don’t have an option, or their only option is a four-year college and a mountain of debt, then working for years to pay off that debt before you build your wealth.”

He said he wants the expansion of education choices to take place in the 2nd Franklin District.

“We continue to send our kids to Franklin Tech or Monty Tech, but we need to expand that here,” he said. “I want to create a Massachusetts service corps. This is for the young people, because the only way we have a sustainable future is by keeping and recruiting young people.”

The Athol Democrat said the service corps could be modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“It’s not something that would just put money in your pocket doing a service-related project in your community; you can also develop a public service orientation, your leadership skills, anything that would help you give back to your community,” he said.

LaRose said another priority for him, if he is elected representative, would be rural and regional economic development. He wants to take programs that have proven successful in urban areas of the state and adapt them to the more rural regions.

In addition, LaRose said he wants to work to ensure towns in districts like the 2nd Franklin get their fair share of Chapter 90 highway funding and other state aid to help improve rural infrastructure. He said that infrastructure goes well beyond roads and bridges.

“With more people at home, they’re less inclined to worry about public transportation, and be more concerned about the 21st-century infrastructure, like broadband. During this pandemic, there have been increasing problems with your internet or your service provider and it’s increasingly frustrating,” he said. “We see all these things on rural transit authorities and east-west rail, but should be focused, in my opinion, on that 21st-century infrastructure.”

A 2010 graduate of Athol High School, LaRose enlisted in officer training and served on active duty in the U.S. Army. Before announcing his candidacy, he spent two years completing his studies at Cornell University’s Institute for Public Affairs in Ithaca, N.Y. He currently is a member of the New York National Guard.

LaRose’s father teaches history at Athol High School and his mother works as a nurse in Leominster.

In an earlier interview, LaRose said, “My entire adult life I’ve been in public service. I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines. As an Army officer, it’s kind of ingrained into us to take the initiative. So, if you see a problem, you see a challenge, or you see something you want to change, we’re taught to step up. So, that’s what I’m doing.

“I grew up in Athol, fifth generation. Especially in the wake of the coronavirus, we’re going to need public servants,” he added. “We’re going to need leaders. And, so, that’s why I’ve decided to run.”

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