Only one individual who lives west of Interstate 495 is running for statewide office in Massachusetts this year.
The importance of the lieutenant governor’s position is such that having a Western Massachusetts voice in that office would provide necessary balance to a political structure otherwise tilted heavily to interests in the state’s eastern sector.
The Republican endorses Eric P. Lesser, of Longmeadow, in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary.
Lesser’s roots in Greater Springfield are not the only reason he rates this support. The four-time state senator for the Hampden, Hampshire & Worcester District has credibility in issues of transportation, housing, child care, education, workforce development and access to mental health treatment, among others.
These are critical issues not only for Western Massachusetts, but statewide. it is undeniable, though, that the state’s western counties have unique challenges within these themes.
A lieutenant governor can provide an important voice and serve as liaison between constituents, other officials and the governor’s office. Through his work in the Obama administration, Lesser has experience at the federal level, where billions of dollars for infrastructure and other aid will be available in the next four years.
He would, therefore, provide a crucial partner to Maura T. Healey, should the putative Democratic nominee win election in November.
The other Democratic primary opponents are Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and state Rep. Tami Gouveia, of Acton, who represents the 14th Middlesex District in the House. Gouveia’s platform is long on defensible priorities but leaves questions about funding capabilities.
Driscoll has received some credit for her work in Salem, but quite frankly, she has not given voters much reason to think Western Massachusetts will be more than an afterthought.
Lesser’s signature achievement, though by no means his only one, has been to help lift west-east passenger rail from the status of pipedream to the threshold of reality, strengthening the entire state. He has proven he can have his voice heard.
The city of Worcester has reaped benefits from having representation in the lieutenant governor’s office. Western Massachusetts deserves no less.
Eric Lesser provides a voice that would otherwise be lacking in Boston. He is well qualified to take his case beyond the primary and to the voters in November.