By G. Michael Dobbs
LONGMEADOW – Dr. Thomas Lachiusa wants to bring his experience as an educator and social worker to the state Senate and is running as a Democrat in the crowded field of the First Hampden-Hampshire District.
Lachiusa explained to Reminder Publications that this is his first run for public office. He has served on the executive board of the Longmeadow Town Democratic Committee.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Lachiusa came to Massachusetts to at attend Springfield College. After graduation, he worked as a special education teacher in Springfield and received his master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut.
He and his wife moved to southern California for work and he earned his Ph. D in social work at the University of South California. In 1990, he returned to teach at Springfield College.
He has spent the past 18 years working at the Hampden County House of Corrections and has made Western Massachusetts his home.
“When an area has been good to you don’t want to leave it,” he said.
Lachiusa explained that working at the jail has given him a valuable prospective about problems facing the area. He believes that education is a key component for positive change.
“When I look at my life education changed everything for me,” he said. He added he would advocate for the support of early education.
Coming from a working class family he said he knows the struggles they face.
He sees education as part of the solution of combating violence within a family and is alarmed at the rise of problems from addiction.
“It’s distressing that so many people need drugs to get by every day,” he said. He noted the rise in the use of opiates such as heroin locally and said there have been 55 deaths due to overdoses from those drugs as well as a spike in incarcerations.
“People who are addicts need to be control of their future. Families need to be part of that process,” Lachiusa said.
While he has “no problems” with medical marijuana dispensaries, he is not in favor of the legalization for recreational use.
“That would be a tragedy,” he said.
He would work to change the economic conditions for the poor by seeking ways for them to “generate wealth from one generation to the next.” Lachiusa explained that traditionally the mains asset for many families is a home, which can then be passed along to the next generation. The difficulty is that people in lower economic groups have difficulties becoming homeowners.
He said additional efforts should be made to assist people in buying homes and encouraging savings accounts.
Lachiusa said that his experience facilitating group therapy would be a help in politics, as he understands how to resolve conflicts.
“In politics people get very emotional, but things have to get done,” he said.
A wrestler in high school and college, Lachiusa said that running for office is “the most difficult competition I’ve ever been in.”