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Many Of Rosenberg's Constituents Sad And Disappointed He's Resigning

Massachusetts state Senator Stan Rosenberg of Amherst announced he will resign from the legislature on Friday after more than 30 years of service. His decision follows this week's critical ethics report and calls from state leaders for him to resign.

Many of Rosenberg's constituents said Thursday they are sad and disappointed he's leaving, though not all think it's the wrong move.

Northampton resident Lena Fletcher, a UMass professor, was at an outside cafe when she heard about Rosenberg's plans to resign.

“My understanding of the things he's done during his career is that he's been an amazing politician for our town and our county and our state,” Fletcher said. “It does feel like a shame."

Rosenberg stepped down as Senate president in December. And now, after a 5-month ethics investigation, his colleagues have accused him of failing to curb his husband Bryon Hefner's abusive behavior towards legislators and others.

Rosenberg was also criticized for allowing Hefner access to his official emails and calendar, and failing to enforce a firewall between government business and his personal life.

“He obviously has had poor judgment, but I think he's one of the most hardworking, diligent, caring politicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing,” said Howard Sasson, a lawyer in Northampton.

Had Rosenberg run again, Sasson said he would have voted for him.

“Nobody is perfect,” Sasson said, “and I think for someone to lose their job, it has to be really egregious, particularly when you weigh it against all the great things he's done.”

Several Democratic leaders had called for Rosenberg to resign from the Senate, as did Governor Charlie Baker.

The ethics committee did not recommend Rosenberg leave his job, though it did suggest he be barred from any leadership position for more than two years. For that reason, Sasson said he thinks Rosenberg's resignation is probably for the best.

Former minister Linda Michel thought it was fair that Rosenberg lost the Senate presidency, given that he'd lost many of his colleagues' trust.

“I think there are consequences to failure to live up to the full responsibility of one's role,” she said.

However, Michel did not think Rosenberg should leave the Senate altogether.

Neither did Helen MacMellon, one of several constituents who had sympathy for Rosenberg as an unwitting partner to his spouse's behavior. After all, they pointed out, love makes people do unwise things.

“I think he was personally very naive and maybe got duped by this young guy who seems very charming, and so made some bad decisions,” MacMellon said. “But I don't think he'd make them again.”

Of course, now no one will know for sure. Rosenberg's resignation takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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