Lindsay Sabadosa, Diana Szynal Square Off For 1st Hampshire House Seat
There’s a rare open seat for the 1st Hampshire District in the Massachusetts House.
State Representative Peter Kocot of Northampton died in February, and his longtime district director Diana Szynal is looking to take over for her old boss.
In the Democratic primary, she’s opposed by Lindsay Sabadosa, who says she wants to bring a progressive agenda with her to Beacon Hill.
Szynal worked for Kocot for 16 years, and has been an elected official before. She served as a selectman in Hatfield for six years.
In a debate recorded by Northampton Community Television, Szynal said she'll be ready to legislate on day one.
"In me, you will get a state representative who is experienced, qualified, trusted, and has shown demonstrated dedication to this district," Szynal said.
The other candidate, Sabadosa, works as a foreign language translator. She’s the head of the Pioneer Valley Women’s March. She also works with groups lobbying for single-payer health care, and a bill to stop police from working with federal immigration officials.
Sabadosa said her activism would make her an effective lawmaker.
"I have spent years building relationships with legislators, advocates and activists from across the commonwealth," she said. "Because of my experience, I know how the Statehouse works. And it's time for political courage and true progressive leadership."
The two Democrats have a fair bit of common ground: They support the use of police body cameras, expanded rail service for the area and bail reform.
One area where there is some disagreement is single-payer health care.
Sabadosa called this her issue, and wants the legislature to move aggressively towards making it reality.
"Health care is 42 percent of our budget," she said. "And our schools are bearing a lot of that cost as well, with rising premiums for teachers. Health care impacts everything."
Szynal, though, said she’d like to see lawmakers take a more deliberate approach and study what some call "Medicare for all."
"Will it provide better care?" Szynal said. "Will it provide better access to care? Will it provide better outcomes? These are the things we absolutely have to know before we race too quickly into something. I don't want to see a system that doesn't work for you, and I don't want to see a system that fails."
In terms of fund-raising, both candidates have seen a steady stream of money coming into their campaigns. According to reports filed with the state, Szynal holds a slight edge, having raised more than $35,000 to over $33,000 for Sabadosa.
Both candidates have contributed modest amounts of money to their own cause. Szynal still has about $9,000 on hand to around $6,000 for Sabadosa.
With no declared candidates from other parties, the winning Democrat will likely be headed to Beacon Hill.
They would be just the third state rep from this Northampton-area seat since the mid 1970s.
Take a look at NEPR's Massachusetts Primary Voter Guide 2018.