By G. Michael Dobbs
LUDLOW – Businessman and current Ludlow School Committee member James “Chip” Harrington is the latest person to announce his intentions to run for the state Senate seat to be vacated at the end of the term by Gale Candaras.
Harrington told Reminder Publications
that being a small businessman was one of the “driving factors” compelling him to seek this office.
Harrington has had a diverse career. He has served as a correctional officer with the Hampden Country Sheriff’s Department for four years, worked as a legislative assistant in the Massachusetts House for three years and then as the court services coordinator for Massachusetts Community Corrections for seven years.
In Ludlow, he has been a special police officer and served in various municipal offices.
In 2003, Chip created C & R Harrington, Inc., the company that runs his variety store and in 2005 he went full time as a small business owner.
As a small business owner, Harrington said the experience has been “a big learning curve.” He said that 2008 through 2011 have been “very difficult years.” He learned first hand the concerns of his customers through the low points of the recession. At the same time his cash flow decreased as his taxes and health insurance costs increased.
Harrington said that these experiences have shaped his agenda for the Senate. He wants to work to Massachusetts more business-friendly.
“I want to bring that to the forefront,” he said.
Harrington said the Senate would not be a “stepping stone” to a life in politics.
“It’s not a résumé builder [for me],” he said. “I’m not a career politician.”
The First Hampden and Hampshire Senate District includes Belchertown, East Longmeadow, Granby, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Wilbraham along with parts of Chicopee and parts of Springfield. While Harrington acknowledged the unique qualities of each of the communities, he said that Springfield and Chicopee deserve special attention.
“Anyone in the suburbs will recognize Springfield is the center of this universe. If Springfield is doing well the area does well. It’s the same thing with Chicopee,” he said.
Although each community is different there are common issues, he said, such as the needs of small businesses.
“I really do feel that I have an unmatchable set of experiences in my life that make me uniquely qualified to be in the state Senate. There is no one else who has firsthand knowledge about our criminal justice system having worked at a prison as a corrections officer, in the courts as coordinator and on the street as a cop. In addition, I already have practical experience working in the Legislature and have been an elected member of municipal government in four different roles for over 24 years. And to top it all off; I own a small business and have everyday knowledge of the struggles that other small business owners go through to provide jobs and serve their community. I plan to bring all those experiences to bear on Beacon Hill,” he said.