By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Another candidate has jumped into a deepening pool of Democratic candidates running for the First Hampden and Hampshire District state Senate seat.
Longmeadow native Eric Lesser, a former White House aide for the Obama Administration, officially threw his hat into the ring for the position for which Sen. Gale Candaras recently announced she would not seek re-election in order to pursue election as register of Probate.
Lesser is the latest in a group of candidates that includes Springfield City Councilor Timothy Allen, Ludlow Selectman Aaron Saunders, Ludlow School Committee member James Harrington and Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee member Tom Lachiusa. East Longmeadow Selectman Debra Boronski is the lone Republican to announce her candidacy thus far.
Lesser, 28, said in a press release that he would be a “strong, new voice” for the district, which encompasses parts of Springfield as well as the towns of East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Wilbraham, Belchertown and Granby and would ensure those towns are not forgotten.
He said the biggest obstacle facing families living in the western part of the state was the lack of quality jobs and accessibility to higher education opportunities.
“I want my young daughter to grow up in Western Massachusetts, just like I did,” Lesser said. “But these days, too many of our families can’t make that same choice. We all have friends, neighbors, even our own children, who struggle to find a good job. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Lesser cited his desire to create a high-speed rail system to Boston as one avenue to keep working professionals in the area, while suggesting the rebuilding of the manufacturing base in the area and the solidification of relationships with area colleges and universities to ensure improved access to public education.
“Together, we can build a vibrant economy based on innovation, small business, and the new economy,” he said. “We can fight back against cynicism and change our politics, too.”
In order for these and other initiatives to happen, Lesser added, it would take a bi-partisan effort, something he is willing to foster.
“But none of this will happen if we follow business as usual. I’m a proud Democrat, but I will work with anyone – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, to bring fresh thinking to the challenges we face,” he said.
While a student at Longmeadow High School, Lesser organized a coalition of parents, students and teachers to protect school funding during the 2002 recession, while also working for Congressman Richard Neal and Sen. Ted Kennedy.
He went on to Harvard University where he was head of the College Democrats, volunteered for Gov. Deval Patrick and developed a public policy research program at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He later returned to Harvard for law school.
In 2008, Lesser worked on President Barack Obama’s campaign, becoming special assistant to White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod and then director of Strategic Planning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Lesser’s campaign website is located at www.ericlesser.com