McGovern spends weekend connecting with voters in newly revised district

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, was joined by state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, during a community conversation at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, spoke to voters at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls on Saturday afternoon as he acquainted himself with some of the new towns in his recently revised congressional district. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/27/2022 3:31:46 PM
Modified: 3/27/2022 3:30:49 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — As U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, begins his re-election campaign in preparation for November’s election, the long-time congressman spent the weekend in Franklin County seeking to connect with voters in his recently revised district.

Through 2021’s redistricting process, the Massachusetts 2nd Congressional District now includes the Franklin County towns of Bernardston, Leyden, Colrain, Heath, Buckland, Shelburne, Ashfield and Conway. McGovern stopped at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls Saturday afternoon to hold a “community listening session” as he talked to residents and collected signatures for his nomination papers. State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, was also in attendance.

“I want to get to know these communities,” McGovern told the crowd of approximately 20 people. “I’m not taking anybody for granted.”

In other regional visits, McGovern spent part of Friday afternoon in Athol and on Sunday, joined Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture John Lebeaux on a sugar house tour at Brookledge Sugarhouse in Whately and Boyden Brothers Maple in Conway.

Residents at the Arms Library held a back-and-forth session with McGovern as they talked about both local and national issues.

In Franklin County

In the county, McGovern highlighted in an interview that the trio of infrastructure, agriculture and food security are main issues for him heading into this election season.

He said he will continue advocating for farmers in the region as work begins on the farm bill for 2023, which is the five-year bill that authorizes the majority of agricultural spending and policy in the country.

Erbin Crowell, the executive director of the Neighboring Food Co-Ops Association (NFCA), said after the discussion that he “appreciated” McGovern making time to come and talk to residents in his newly acquired towns. The NFCA is based in Shelburne Falls and works with 31 food co-ops and 11 startups across New England as they work to “support the development of community-owned grocery stores.”

Crowell said it was great that McGovern is so in tune with the agriculture industry and the challenges that many people in rural areas face when it comes to getting healthy, affordable food.

“It can be a journey for some people to get to a grocery store,” Crowell said by phone. “That’s where I really appreciated his comments around some of those challenges and not just making sure groceries are affordable, but accessible and support local producers, ensuring farmers in our region can stay in business.”

McGovern said Greenfield’s infrastructure is a top priority. During the conversation with voters, he said he has had recent discussions about sidewalks for Leyden Road, which were not included in the federal infrastructure bill.

“We want rail, we want bridges repaired,” he said to the crowd. “We’ve got to make some noise.”

He also prioritized accessibility to voters. McGovern said he plans to keep an open ear for residents with concerns.

“I want people to know I’m accessible,” he said. “We need more democracy, not less.”

National issues

On the national level, McGovern told those in attendance that climate change and the preservation of American democracy are two of the greatest issues facing the U.S.

With the pandemic in recession, McGovern said this is a chance to “think differently” about issues, especially those that may not be noticed by the average person.

“Most people look at their life from the kitchen window,” McGovern said. “Climate change is not just the wear and tear of roads and bridges.”

John Cornman, a Shelburne Falls resident, said Democrats’ messaging on issues like climate change needs to be worked on, which McGovern agreed with.

“How do we make that case to the millions of voters who don’t understand it?” Cornman asked. “I don’t think we’re doing a good job.”

“We’ve got to figure out a better way to message it,” McGovern replied. “We need to talk in more real terms.”

McGovern said he envisions the upcoming midterms as a potential threat to the country because Republicans taking the house would be a “reward to the most intolerant and anti-democratic voices in the country.” He added that some voting measures that are being enacted in other states are “not even trying to suppress the vote, but are trying to nullify votes.”

“That’s why I think these midterms are so important,” he said, adding that if the Republican Party of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert wins, then “we’ll have our hands full.”

The congressman recounted his experience during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021 and said some Republicans’ alternate narratives of that day mean that Congress is “not even dealing with facts anymore.”

With feedback from voters in mind, McGovern said that he plans to have a better action plan for messaging and advocacy by the time he returns to Shelburne Falls in June, and if they don’t have one, then he said they’re in real trouble.

“If I see you in June” with no plan, he said, “then I’ll see you in Floodwater Brewing (Company), I’ll be the one with the keg.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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